Oil and Gas UK’s latest economic report lays down a serious challenge to the UK government and exposes serious failings in their approach to supporting the North Sea oil and gas industry, at a time of sustained low oil prices across the globe.
In contrast the Scottish Government is playing its part in supporting the industry and will continue to do all it can within its powers to support jobs and businesses in the sector.
Last week the First Minister opened Statoil’s new Aberdeen headquarters, and confirmed that 600 applications have now been processed for the £12 million Transition Training Fund – to help retain industry skills within the workplace. The Scottish Government has already invested £7 million in research and development, unlocking £16 million in 70 new innovation projects.
The industry itself has worked hard towards lowering costs and continued collaboration will only help to improve the picture. Production rates are healthy too, but with global oil price remaining suppressed decisive action is needed from the UK government.
In the SNP we have long called for the UK government to take the serious, sensible measures which will make a real difference in incentivising exploration and development of new prospects in the North Sea. With these latest figures showing record low activity in exploration, the time for action from the UK government to boost activity and protect jobs is long overdue.
Yesterday the Prime Minister did herself no favours by sneering from afar on the challenges that low oil prices represent for Scotland. Those workers who’ve lost their jobs want to see the UK government actually do something about it – they don’t want political goading and condescension from Theresa May.
At the beginning of 2016 the SNP called for this to be a ‘year of action’ from the Tory government on Scotland’s oil and gas industry. We even made it easy for them – setting out tax incentives and loan guarantee proposals which could have stimulated investment, sustained jobs and maximised recovery of reserves over the long term.
Let’s bear in mind the North Sea oil and gas sector has generated £300 billion for the Treasury, yet it is now being abandoned by the Tories in its time of need.
If Theresa May’s government doesn’t now focus on vital support for the sector, to see through the worst of the downturn and encouraging future growth, then they will be guilty of perpetrating one of the most shameful betrayals in the history of Scottish industry.
Callum McCaig is MP for Aberdeen South and SNP Energy Spokesperson at Westminster