Chris Silver

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Oil And Gas Workers Continue to be Excluded From 'Just Transition', Report Shows

Read time: 4 mins

The majority of offshore workers in the North Sea would consider leaving the sector, a new report has found.

Poor job security was cited as the most pressing reason to quit the industry, after the collapse in oil prices from Covid-19 saw 43% of oil and gas workers furloughed or made redundant since March.

Scotland's Fossil Fuel Sector Hangs in the Balance as Ministers Consider Calls to Intervene

Read time: 7 mins
Grangemouth petrochemicals complex

A year on from the Scottish Government’s declaration of a climate emergency, the country’s fossil fuel industry is about to enter a critical period as ministers weigh up key decisions on how to achieve ambitious climate targets in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vast industrial complex around the port and town of Grangemouth - once the cradle of Scotland’s industrial revolution - remains the beating heart of Scotland’s fossil fuel industry.

Coronavirus Brings North Sea Oil's Need for a Just Transition Into Focus

Read time: 8 mins

The practical challenges of tackling coronavirus on a cramped North Sea oil platform cannot be overstated — living spaces are often shared, two-metres social distancing is tricky and often unenforceable. This is an industry defined by the fact that privacy is left behind onshore. With staffing levels falling by 40 percent in recent weeks, the industry is already being forced to take drastic steps to address such vulnerabilities.  

Practical challenges aside, the North Sea oil and gas sector is once again facing a bleak outlook, at least for the time being.

Just Transition — Part Five: Seeking a Green Transition

Read time: 12 mins
Maersk drilling rig being towed

Scotland has declared a “climate emergency”, intensifying debates over the future of the North Sea oil and gas industry. Five years on from a ‘catastrophic’ downturn, Chris Silver explores the impact of changing employment conditions in a sector experiencing unprecedented levels of industrial tension.

Thurso-based Mark Boyd is not your average offshore worker, not least because when he’s not out on a vessel working as a hydrographic surveyor, he spends most of his time maintaining his position as Scotland’s professional surfing champion.

Orkney: The 'Energy Islands' Penalised for Becoming Too Clean, Too Soon

Read time: 12 mins
Orkney power cable market

Famed for its remarkable archaeological treasures from the ancient past, today Orkney is forging a low-carbon future for itself. The archipelago can point to a string of landmark achievements in developing low-carbon technology, and hasn't been a net importer of electricity since April 2015.

Yet, this quiet renewables revolution in the far north of Scotland is under threat.

Just Transition — Part Four: the Highlands of Hydro

Read time: 12 mins

In a speech in Glasgow on 24 Nov 1946, the renowned wartime Labour Secretary of State for Scotland, Tom Johnston, painted a vision of the future. In his new role as chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board, he anticipated a time when water power in Scotland would equal “the total amount of power at present produced from steam-coal stations, with a surplus enough left to electrify the railways and provide power to introduce any number of new industries in the Highlands.”

Just Transition — Part Three: Centuries of Shale

Read time: 8 mins

In a Scotland straining towards a two-thirds cut in emissions by 2030, the behemoth of Grangemouth represents by far the greatest single obstacle. In addition to the practical questions surrounding its future, it has become totemic for capital, unions, and the Scottish National Party. The prospect of an independent Scotland without a single oil refinery, compelled to re-import its own oil, would be politically unacceptable for Scottish nationalism.

Just Transition — Part Two: City of Oil

Read time: 13 mins

Few vistas in the country offer such an impressive picture of industriousness as that of Aberdeen Harbour. Tall, brightly coloured prows of vessels servicing the oil industry jostle for space up against dockside installations and the terraced granite and concrete of the city centre.

Just Transition — Part One: The Kingdom of Coal

Read time: 14 mins
The Little Raith Windfarm, which lies between Cowdenbeath and the Mossmorran Petrochemical facility in Fife.

In this first of our new series 'Just Transition, from Fossil Fuels to Environmental Justice', we look at the history of energy in Fife, and begin to mine the prospects for a more sustainable future to meet our climate crisis.