MORE than 7500 jobs have been lost in the UK oil and gas industry since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, MPs have been told.

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, told the Scottish Affairs Committee about the impact the crisis has already had on the industry, with a previous report from the body projecting up to 30,000 job losses.

Michie said the sector has been hit by a “triple whammy” of Covid-19, and a drop in the price of oil and gas.

She told MPs yesterday: “As a result, we saw industry have to respond in reducing activity levels by about 40% and also – in terms of the economics – we saw projects being pushed back and jobs being lost as a result of that. It happened pretty quickly and it happened overnight.”

Michie said the supply chain for the industry has been under “particular pressure” as a result of the pandemic, as it was just recovering from the last oil downturn in the middle of the last decade, with revenue dropping by around 33%.

She said: “Jobs are under pressure. We put out a report about two to three weeks ago that put out an estimate that, if current conditions continue to prevail, up to 30,000 jobs could be lost across the industry.

“That is a very challenging situation to find ourselves in.”

Once the Job Retention Scheme is ended, Michie said, more positions are expected to be lost due to a lack of cash flow and the stripping of that government support.

Responding to a question from Tory MP Andrew Bowie, Michie said the “tripartite working” between the government, the industry itself and the Oil and Gas Authority set up during the last downturn in 2015 had helped it prepare for the pandemic.

She said: “The setting up of all of those and the working together as we came out of the last downturn was testament to those elements of the tripartite approach that we all talk about.

“As we have gone through this next downturn, it was very much that we’ve worked very well with both governments and the regulator – who we have found very open, accessible and supportive – so now as we go through the recovery phase we have to work together, because we know that’s the only way to support jobs in the short to medium term and also to accelerate towards net-zero (emissions).”