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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Talks over Shell shutdown
Shell sign
Shell employs onshore and offshore workers in the Lowestoft area
Managers and staff at Shell in Lowestoft are meeting on Thursday to discuss the announcement that the Suffolk offices are to close.

The oil firm said on Wednesday it was cutting 200 jobs in Suffolk and up to 100 other posts elsewhere in the UK.

Staff were told that the creation of a new regional centre in Europe would mean substantial job losses and the closure of its Lowestoft operation.

The company said a final decision about the total number of losses would be made later this year.

Shell, which has been in Lowestoft for 37 years, is one of the town's largest employers.

It provides the management and administrative support for Shell's gas production and exploration in the North Sea.

It will punch a gaping hole in a town that is not unused to economic misfortune
Waveney MP Bob Blizzard
Bob Blizzard, Labour MP for Waveney, raised concerns about the redundancies at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

He said the closure was a devastating blow for the town.

"It will punch a gaping hole in a town that is not unused to economic misfortune," he said.

"There are many good, hardworking people, (in Lowestoft), which because of its peripheral location, finds it so hard to attract new businesses when we lose those industries we've had for so long."

Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Jobcentre Plus would provide support for workers who lose their jobs.

Shell employs both onshore and offshore workers in the Lowestoft area.

The company will continue to run 27 platforms off the East Anglian coast, employing 300 people, and still use the gas terminal up the coast at Bacton in Norfolk.

The company, along with Esso, received government approval this February to explore a new gas field off the East Anglia coast, which led to speculation that the project would bring new job opportunities.

Oil union raises safety fears
28 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Shell cuts 350 North Sea jobs
17 Mar 03  |  Scotland
'Remote' gas field plan approved
06 Feb 03  |  England

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