Sunday 31 July 2016 2:39 pm

North Sea oil workers ready for fresh strike as low prices bite

North Sea oil workers are preparing to walk out for the second time in just over a week, as the embattled sector continues to struggle amid stubbornly low oil prices.

Workers will go on strike for 48 hours on 4 August, as part of an ongoing dispute over changes to wages and shift patterns which has pitted trade unions Unite and RMT against oil services firm Wood Group.

Read more: Exxon Mobil profits plummet as oil prices keep on sliding

Output on the affected platforms, which are all owned by Royal Dutch Shell, have not yet been affected.

Oil workers downed their tools for the first time in a generation last week, after mediation efforts between the unions and Wood Group failed.

Crude prices tumbling from more than $110 per barrel in the middle of 2014 has forced oil firms to cut costs, scale back or abandon projects and axe jobs.

A disappointing set of earnings from oil majors last week highlighted how hard it is for the industry to bounce back from this, despite oil prices recovering from a multi-year low in January to around $45 recently.

Read more: Oil hovers near bear market territory as oversupply weighs

London-listed Royal Dutch Shell's second quarter profits plunged 70 per cent, as chief executive Ben van Beurden said low oil prices continued to be a "significant challenge" across the business which is trying to absorb its recent acquisition BG Group.

Its peer BP's boss Bob Dudley also blamed the commodity rout as the company suffered a 44 per cent drop in profits.