British unions representing offshore workers said on Monday the government should invest taxpayer money directly into oil and gas projects to save the sector rather than extend welfare payments to furloughed staff.
In a joint statement, the unions said they expected around 3,500 workers to be out of a job by September and that their members in the drilling sector were told their employers did not see any upturn in their sector before 2022.
"We see it as vital that we get the government to invest in projects, not as operating partners but as equity partners, providing low cost loans to operators," the statement said.
"The projects that were on the books for 2020/21 were based on an oil price of $x while the oil price is now at $y; therefore the government could bridge the gap with an investment, rather than paying benefits... Keep workers working, keep the economy going and growing."
Britain's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the sector regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), had no immediate comment on the unions' proposal.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla Editing by Mark Heinrich)