Minister confirms long-term role for oil and gas

Gillian Martin called for assurances that efforts would be directed to support jobs within the North Sea oil and gas industry.
Gillian Martin called for assurances that efforts would be directed to support jobs within the North Sea oil and gas industry.

The Scottish Government has said there is a ‘long-term role’ for the oil and gas sector after plans to continue a moratorium on fracking indefinitely were announced.

Aberdeenshire SNP MSP Gillian Martin called for assurances from Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse that efforts would be directed to support jobs within the North Sea oil and gas industry.

In an announcement at Holyrood this week, Mr Wheelhouse said the decision had been influenced by a number of concerns including the impact of fracking on health, meeting current climate change targets and the lack of evidence on its potential economic impact in Scotland.

Ms Martin asked the Minister: “While it is a clear statement of intent when it comes to unconventional oil and gas practices in Scotland, looking at the conventional practices of our domestic oil and gas industry – what continuing support will the Scottish Government give the sector to get people back into work?”

In response Mr Wheelhouse said: “Gillian Martin raises a very important point, I refer to it in my statement, but we do very strongly support the oil and gas industry and its offshore activities.

“We have jointly funded with the UK Government a £180million Oil and Gas Centre and indeed the Innovation hub for that centre was launched yesterday by the First Minster.

“We have put in place the Energy Jobs Taskforce which has focused on improving the resilience of oil and gas companies both in the production centre and in the supply chain, we’ve invested up to £10million in R&D support to help oil and gas supply chain companies to improve their importance and remain competitive and we’ve helped those oil and gas workers affected by redundancy through the Transition Training Fund with £12million of support helping 2,400 individuals directly and providing another 755 placements through two procurement rounds.

“Our energy strategy is very clear that there is a long term role for the sector even though we are embarked on an ambitious low carbon trajectory.”

In 2016, the first shipment of shale gas was received at Grangemouth by energy giant Ineos.

While shipments can be processed from abroad, they cannot be extracted from beneath Scottish soil as a result of the moratorium put in place.

Ms Martin said: “The Scottish Government has carried out a thorough investigation over the past two years to establish the facts about fracking.

“The decision today to continue the moratorium indefinitely is welcome because there are far too many questions about its impact on the environment, health and local communities.

“We must renew our focus on offshore oil and gas and on maintaining jobs in the North Sea oil and gas industry and continue to innovate into the renewables sector that will provide jobs and energy for the future, and that the North East could be at the centre of.”