The BP ETAP (Eastern Trough Area Project) oil platform
London - AFP
Energy giant BP said it was shedding 200 staff jobs and 100 contractors in its North Sea operations on Thursday following a sharp drop in oil prices.
The company is the latest oil major to announce hundreds of cuts in the sector and Britain's government said it was setting up a commission to consider how to limit the impact of prices.
Britain's government is to create a commission charged with considering how to limit the impact of the price drop on the industry, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said Thursday.
Trevor Garlick, regional president for BP North Sea, said the cuts were inevitable due to "toughening market conditions" and the "well-documented challenges of operating in this maturing region".
But he added: "We are committed to the North Sea and see a long-term future for our business here."
BP currently employs some 3,500 onshore and offshore workers in the North Sea operations, mainly in and around the oil hub city of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Oil prices have slumped by more than 50 percent since June.
The job cuts, all of them onshore, are the latest in a wave to hit Scotland's oil industry in recent months.
Energy major ConocoPhillips said last year it was cutting 230 jobs across Britain, out of a total of 1,649 staff -- almost all of them in Aberdeen.
Shell and Chevron also announced a total of 450 job cuts in Scotland last year.
Davey told BBC Radio 4 that the government would "do everything we can" to retain jobs in the sector.
"We have got to make sure we have a long-term view and are not just panicked by short-term changes in the oil prices," said Davey, who met oil and gas industry executives in Aberdeen on Thursday.
Scotland's devolved government earlier this week urged London to ease the tax burden on the North Sea oil industry to help it cope with sliding prices.
Ministers are consulting on proposals for tax cuts for the North Sea ahead of the annual budget on March 18.
Fergus Ewing, the energy minister in the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) administration, said the current price of under $50 (43 euros) a barrel had caused "the most serious jobs situation Scotland has faced in living memory".
The oil industry employs about 225,000 people in Scotland, generating £17.7 billion ($26.9 billion, 23 billion euros) for the regional economy in 2013, according to Scottish Development International.