What Are The Facts About Potential Job Creation From Bringing Oil Rig Decommissioning to Hunterston?

The question of jobs generated by bringing decommissioning to Hunterston underpins much of the local and national support for the project, but a careful look  at the evidence reveals that the claim of jobs in the hundreds made by advocates of the project are highly contentious.

Peelports estimate the creation of up to 250 – 500 ‘Job Equivalent Years’ generated by oil rig decommissioning. We’ve tried really hard to get information about the way that they have arrived at this number, but have not been able to get any facts about the workforce modelling or assumptions that this figure is based on.

‘Job Equivalent Years’ is an interesting metric, as it can  mean different things depending on the definitions and assumptions that are used. Without access to the modelling that has been used, we are left to apply common sense logic  to understand what the statement means in terms of actual jobs. This leads us to reach the understanding that decommissioning at Hunterston will deliver an estimated 250 -500 years of the equivalent of a ‘job’.  In terms of actual jobs  this equates to:

– 1 job for 250 – 500 years
– 25 – 50 jobs for 10 years
– 50 – 100 jobs for 5 years

The widely reported evidence of job creation at existing yards indicates that the figure of between 25 – 50 jobs is the most accurate ie: Dales Voe (N=50 jobs)/ Dales Voe (N=35) / Dundee (N=10) / Methyl (N=30). This has been confirmed to us by Professor Tom Baxter at the University of
Aberdeen https://theconversation.com/five-myths-about-dismantling-north-sea-oil-rigs-76063

Importantly, ‘job equivalent years’ doesn’t tell us anything about the quality, sustainability and local benefit of the jobs raising questions such as:

  • What type of jobs are they? What level of skills will be required? How well paid will they be?
  • What proportion of jobs will be guarenteed  for the local community?
  • Does the local community have the skills required and what proportion of the workforce will require ‘importing’?
  • How sustainable are the jobs and how many, if any apprenticeships will be created?
  • How compatible is decommissioning with other possible sustainable forms of economic development at the site?

Unfortunately, the ten times larger figure of 250-500  jobs keeps being quoted by advocates of the case for decommissioning, apparently under the assumption it means Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs and  by a process of Chinese’s whispers the figure becomes fact.

Of course a smaller number of jobs over a shorter length of time are still jobs to be welcomed and FoFoC are absolutely fully in support of job creation. But there doesn’t seem to have been any serious interrogation of the figures or rigorous cost – benefit analysis undertaken to look at the potential risks to other parts of the local economy such as tourism and fishing and the costs of the longer term impact on the marine environment.

For example, the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that surrounds Hunterston is protected for its Eel grass meadows which are essential for the health and regeneration of the marine environment, including the population of fish and invertebrates, such as mussels & oysters. The work needed to make the derelict dry dock fit for purpose will require dredging of
100s of 1000’s of tonnes of sand from the area around and, we suspect because of errors in the mapping of the boundary,  within the SSSI which will cause irreparable long term damage.

The FoFoC are arguing that there must be a full and transparent understanding of the costs balanced against the estimated employment gain. Unfortunately our experience is that local and national authorities have not fully interrogated the facts and figures and are rushing to grant permission and grant financial support for decommissioning at Hunterston under the false assumption of creating 250-500 jobs.

Peelports have just launched a community engagement strategy via their new web site. Currently, it’s not clear what other then decommissioning they are proposing for the site but there is a statement which suggests they might now be looking beyond just decommissioning by saying:

...”Sustainable development of Hunterston PARC  will bring significant local economic benefits, with provisional master planning indicating that more than 1,000 jobs could be created  on the site. These positions will extend from plant operatives and  clerical workers, to scientists and engineers in advanced technology,  breathing new life into local communities in North Ayrshire for decades to come….”

We are keen to see more details of the ‘aspirational’ Master Plan for Hunterston and have been informed that a Public Consultation will be held between 16th May – 28th June 2019, along with a public exhibition event at Fairlie Community hall between 4th – 6th June and at Garrison House, Millport on Thursday 6th June 2019. We strongly encourage everyone that is concerned about the future of Hunterston to take part.

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