Nearly 70 jobs under threat as Archer closes Blyth base

The oil services firm announced the closure to staff this week, just over a year since expansion plans were talked about

Eddie Fergusson House, Archer's former offices
Eddie Fergusson House, Archer's former offices

Nearly 70 jobs are under threat at oil field service provider Archer, after the firm closed its Blyth office.

The move follows a review of the global firm’s Blyth offices following current uncertainty in the North Sea oil industry.

The Journal understands that general manager Nick Oates announced his resignation last week before staff were informed of the office’s closure on Wednesday by a senior member of staff from the firm’s Norwegian branch.

Of 67 staff at the base, 54 were contract consultants. Some of the staff were offered alternative positions at Archer’s Aberdeen offices.

Bill Muir, area manager of Archer’s Drilling Facilities and Engineering division said: “Archer’s Drilling Facilities and Engineering (DFE) management in the North Sea region is conducting a review of the company’s Newcastle DFE office with regard to changes in the current market and with our clients.

“At this point in time, Archer has proposed a consolidation of the DFE offices to Aberdeen and Stavanger engineering and operational hubs. As part of the review process, Archer will look to transfer personnel where appropriate, to keep up with current projects.

“The Newcastle office consists of 67 engineering employees, of which 54 are contract consultants. Archer will continue to monitor the situation with our clients and communicate with our personnel as more information becomes available to us.”

The global firm, which operated a base at Eddie Ferguson House on Blyth Quayside, had outlined plans to expand only last year.

One former member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Journal the move had come as a total surprise to staff – saying that a month ago Archer’s Texas branch had discussed a joint project with the Blyth office, for the New Year.

Along with office staff, the Blyth base had housed a team of multi-discipline engineers who provided engineering and design support on drilling installations around the world.

In 2013 the firm signed a 10-year lease agreement for the entire 22,000 sq ft Eddie Ferguson House, and at the time signalled it would create around 130 jobs.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said the news was “disappointing” – particularly for affected employees and their families at this time of year.

He added: “We understand that this is a strategic decision made from the company’s global headquarters – and means moving these oil related operations closer to industry sites in Scotland and the USA.

“Along with partner agencies we will be doing everything we can to support local employees displaced by the decision.

“It is also disappointing when there is also a lot of good news for Blyth – with a new development planned for Westgate and the Blyth Workspace due to open for business in the New Year. We will continue to work through Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, to gain further investment in jobs in the town.”

Overall the Archer Well group employs more than 8,300 people in places such as Norway, Bermuda and South America. The firm has long-term contracts with Statoil, Conoco Phillips, Seadrill, Shell, Marathon, BP and many other major operators.

The firm was formed in 2011 when Seawell merged with Allis-Chalmers Energy – along with several complementary businesses.

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