In what looks set to become a landmark contract in the UK, Petrofac has formed an alliance with Babcock International Group plc, which will see the heavy industry skills of employees at Rosyth also adopted for offshore employment.
The pioneering initiative has been fully supported by Amicus, the largest manufacturing union in the UK, which hopes it will set a precedent across the country.
Petrofac, the international provider of facilities solutions to the oil & gas production and processing industry, also intends offering the new skills base to its partner companies in the Offshore Contractors’ Association (OCA).
Babcock is a highly experienced support services company. Its customer base includes the Ministry of Defence for which it refits Royal Navy ships. The core skills at Babcock are deemed to be a good fit for the oil & gas industry, therefore it makes sense to utilise surplus labour in this way.
This innovative contractual agreement between the two companies allows Petrofac to utilise Babcock’s workers.
Ex Royal Navy marine engineer Paddy Mallan, integrated operations director at Petrofac, which this month won the Scottish Offshore Achievement Award for internationalisation of Scottish skills, said:
“We have worked hard to achieve this contractual relationship between ourselves and Babcock not only to retain the skill sets but maintain them in Scotland. Cross-skilling is definitely the way forward for industry. We have to grasp more opportunities like this.
“These workers have excellent skills in terms of welding, pipe fitting, rigging and general heavy industry and engineering trades as well as technical skills which are all transferable to the oil & gas industry.
“We can utilise these highly-skilled workers when they are available. They will learn how to convert their skills through a programme at Petrofac Training before going offshore, which is likely to be during the shutdown season between May and September.”
Ken Munro, head of personnel at Babcock Engineering Services, said: “This is a groundbreaking contract which enables Babcock to continue to commit our high-quality service to our customer base. In addition, we will be providing a long-term solution to the skills shortage in the North Sea oil & gas sector.
“Our employees are real tradesmen whose skills are second to none. Furthermore, the beauty of this contractual agreement is that the employees do not have to relocate to work in the North Sea oil industry.”
Graham Tran, Amicus regional officer, said: “This is a magnificent initiative and Amicus were instrumental in bringing the parties together. This deal is not another quick fix, short-term solution that we often see in the oil & gas industry, this will help address long-term skills shortages that we face.
“It is our intention to have this initiative raised at national level within Amicus with the view to extending it to the UK shipbuilding and repair industry as a whole. Further we will explore the possibility of having a similar agreement within the UK aerospace sector.”