Buzzard oil and gas field in the UK North Sea; Source: CNOOC Petroleum Europe

In the midst of industrial unrest in UK’s oil & gas sector, CNOOC inks ‘significant recognition’ deal

At a time when a surge of industrial action is spreading its wings over the offshore platforms on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS), the UK’s Unite the union has secured – what it deems as – a recognition deal with CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited (CNOOC).

Buzzard oil and gas field in the UK North Sea; Source: CNOOC Petroleum Europe

Based on Unite the union’s statement from Thursday, 18 May 2023, the voluntary agreement negotiated with CNOOC covers around 140 workers on the Buzzard, Golden Eagle, and Scott platforms, which are located approximately 100, 111, and 185 kilometres northeast of Aberdeen, respectively. While Buzzard produced its first oil in 2007, the Golden Eagle platform achieved its first oil in 2014, and the Scott asset, with the Scott, Telford and Rochelle fields tied into the platform, started production in 1993.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, commented: “This is a significant recognition deal for our members working for CNOOC. It comes at a time when there is widespread industrial unrest in the offshore sector due to unfettered corporate profiteering.

“We believe our offshore members’ determination to secure better jobs, pay and conditions is striking a chord. Offshore operators and contractors must see that there is a better way to treat their workforce, and if they do not, then Unite will hold them to account.”

This development, which is perceived to be a positive step for the trade union and workers’ rights, comes amid a wave of industrial unrest hitting the offshore sector. This was hammered home by around 1,200 contractors, who resumed 48-hour strike action last week in – what the union considers to be – an increasingly bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions in the offshore sector.

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John Boland, Unite industrial officer, remarked: “This is a really significant recognition agreement signed with CNOOC. It is only the second recognition agreement we have secured with an offshore operator. We believe it comes at a time when our members’ resolve is resonating across the offshore sector. Corporations are sitting up and taking notice. Unite hopes this positive development will lead to other operators following a similar path as CNOOC.”