The oil companies are beginning to look like the banks. During the good years, they cream off ridiculous profits with huge bonuses paid to senior management and directors.

And in the bad times they get out of the begging bowl to ask for more money from the government.

For years the UK oil industry has been making record profits on the back of high oil prices, but now the low oil price is taking its toll. The industry has now asked the British Government for tax breaks to prevent a “collapse” in drilling activity in the North Sea. The industry is arguing that 50,000 jobs could be at risk.

Lobbyists from the oil industry have met Ed Miliband, the British Energy Secretary, “to alert the Government to the likelihood of a sharp fall in North Sea investment this year because of the collapse in the oil price and a lack of funding from banks for offshore projects,” according to the Times.

Oil & Gas UK, the North Sea industry association, is arguing that the lack of funding and high taxes will lead to a halving of investment from last year’s £5 billion. Malcolm Webb, the association’s chief executive, said: “There are about 20,000 jobs relying on each billion pounds of capital expenditure. That’s about 50,000 jobs [potentially at risk] in the North Sea and the supply chain.”

In a meeting with Miliband, the association has now asked the government for tax relief and changes to the tax system and they have had an encouraging response. And it serems that Webb has received some good news from the government.   He said: “We are very hopeful we will hear something in the Government’s Budget.”

Commenting on the story on the Times website, Tom Hayden from Eastchester in the US said: “So its heads I win, tails you lose. Nothing could be richer than this.”

Quite agree Tom. Quite agree.