Centrica gas operations in Heysham '˜to move to Aberdeen'

Staff working for Centrica in Heysham have been told to expect redundancies after the company announced it was moving the entire operation to Scotland.

Friday, 8th July 2016, 2:37 pm
Updated Friday, 8th July 2016, 4:42 pm
Centrica Energys normally-unmanned North Morecambe platform, located 39km offshore in Morecambe Bay.

Workers say they were informed on Wednesday, July 6, that the company, which owns British Gas, the AA and OneTel, among other subsidiaries, would close the site at Heysham Harbour by early next year.

A spokesman for Centrica said the company was “at a very early stage in this process and looking at various options”.

He added that “the focus will be on our people and maintaining safe operations”.

The site supports Centrica’s gas platforms in the Irish Sea, but staff have said the company will now move the whole operation to Aberdeen, 330 miles away.

One member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: “ Huge changes have been happening recently directing mass amounts of work away from the local site and up to Aberdeen.

“Local staff have been helpless in stopping more and more aspects of their jobs being taken over by Aberdeen staff in a bid to justify their expensive premises and staff whilst the much more cost efficient East Irish Sea division of Centrica, the main profit making part of the business, can do nothing to keep the roles here, where the second largest gas field was discovered 40 years ago.

“Local staff had found themselves reporting to management in Aberdeen they had never and possibly never will meet now.

“It seems Aberdeen weren’t happy to just manage the local site. They want the whole thing. Things must be very bad in the supposed Oil & Gas Capital of the World.”

Another member of staff said the office, which has employed hundreds of people in the area for more than 20 years, would be closing in March 2017.

They said that staff now either face redundancy or a possible commute to the Barrow processing site, or relocation to Aberdeen.

The decision to close the office will affect around 80 staff.

The staff member added: “Staff have been told that they are now being placed at risk of redundancy.

“They have said it’s not cost efficient to keep the office here open.

“They are also looking at reducing the number of operational personnel both at Barrow and offshore by approximately 25 per cent.”

A Centrica spokesman said: “As part of our work to maximise the potential of our gas fields in Morecambe Bay, we are looking at how we manage our operations in the area. As we continue to invest in our offshore platforms and the Barrow Gas Terminals, we want to make sure we are set up to continue producing gas for UK homes for many years to come. We are at a very early stage in this process and looking at various options, but throughout the process our focus will be on our people and maintaining safe operations. We will be working closely with all the teams who might be affected to give them to give them all the support they need.”

In February, the company told oilandgaspeople.com, that it will cut more North Sea jobs as the company underlined it plans to slash spending in the area amid the crude price slump.

Chief executive Iain Conn said Centrica expects to cut jobs in the North Sea-focused UK exploration and production business this year and intends to cut spending on new assets and exploration by around a third.