The leading representative for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has today initially welcomed the winter economy plans announced by the Chancellor, noting it will seek further information on the details of the proposals in the coming days.

Plans announced by the Chancellor today include wage top-ups targeted at small and medium businesses to replace the furlough scheme when it ends. Companies will also be given more time to repay funds accessed through the government’s coronavirus loan schemes.

A report by OGUK earlier this year warned up to 30,000 jobs could be lost in the sector as it faces a triple whammy of low oil and gas prices alongside the operational impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The body today encouraged governments to keep a focus on the prize of a green recovery, where the essential expertise of the oil and gas industry could mean fresh opportunities for the fragile supply chain.

OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “Throughout the pandemic our industry has never stopped working, providing affordable energy to millions across the UK. Today’s announcement will be helpful to our sector and the thousands of people it employs across the country.

“We welcome the principle of support provided by the Chancellor today and will be pressing for more detail regarding eligibility for our supply chain, which remains in a fragile condition.

“To increase activity levels in the industry we need to be able to get more people working without compromising on the health and safety of our people. We continue to have conversations with government about the best way to do this so that we can quickly accelerate maintenance programmes and other activity as soon as possible.

“Facing a winter of uncertainty, focus must also remain on the prize of securing a green recovery which puts the essential expertise of our industry to work in building the solutions we need to meet our climate ambitions.

“Through a green recovery, a North Sea Transition Deal and continued support for our industry, we can help keep costs low for households and families, retain jobs and create new roles for the future.”