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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK

Business: The Company File

Elf sheds oilfields

The Flotta terminal in Orkney will go on the market

The French oil company Elf Aquitaine is to sell its major North Sea interests with the prospect of redundancies.

BBC Scotland's Sheena Mackay reports
The Piper, Claymore and Saltire platforms are all involved, as is the Flotta Terminal on Orkney and its associated pipelines.

The sale will include the Piper B platform, the replacement for Occidental's Piper Alpha installation which blew up in 1988 with the loss of 167 lives.

[ image: Marathon's North Sea base is in Aberdeen]
Marathon's North Sea base is in Aberdeen
Another oil company, Marathon, has announced the loss of 100 jobs as part of a restructuring programme.

About 40 will go at its Aberdeen and Peterhead operations in Scotland along with 10 offshore posts.

Another 25 are set to be lost at Marathon's London headquarters and the same amount again in early retirement.

The move by Elf, which ranks in the world's top 10 oil and gas groups, will allow it to concentrate on the lucrative Elgin and Franklin fields in the North Sea. They are expected to begin production in April 2000.

Company officials said the sale was designed to enable Elf to remain competitive despite a reduced exploration budget.

A spokeswoman added that "a number of companies" have expressed an interest in the assets up for sale.

[ image: Piper B built on the lessons learned from the 1988 disaster]
Piper B built on the lessons learned from the 1988 disaster
Staff in Aberdeen and Orkney were informed on Monday afternoon and the company has confirmed some redundancies are inevitable.

Staff at the Aberdeen base are considered to be more vulnerable than those at Flotta.

Senior management at the Flotta terminal met the chief executive of Orkney Islands Council, who is concerned about the implications of the sale.

The offshore union OILC, said jobs would be lost among the hundreds of staff.

General Secretary Jake Molloy said the news would be a severe blow for morale offshore with implications for safety.

Elf's exploration operations span 29 countries, mainly in the North Sea and the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Daily production exceeds one million barrels of oil.

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Elf Aquitaine

Offshore Industry Liaison Committee

Marathon Oil

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