Angus MP Mike Weir, SNP Westminster Energy Spokesperson, has said that action to support the oil and gas industry will be a priority for a team of SNP MPs elected in May.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans for the establishment of an Energy Jobs Taskforce and plans for apprenticeship guarantees in the oil and gas sector, by providing £5,000 to support the employment of any apprentice caught up in potential redundancies.
Action which the North Sea industry needs now, where the powers are held by Westminster, includes:
- An investment allowance to allow companies to meet the higher capital costs involved in developing technically challenging fields. It is estimated that such an allowance could support between 14,000 and 26,000 jobs per year across the UK, with a large proportion based in Scotland.
- A phased reversal of the increase in the supplementary charge brought in by George Osborne in 2011, with a defined date and timetable for its complete withdrawal. Analysis indicates that up to 5,600 jobs per year could be supported by such a move across the UK, many of them in Scotland.
- The creation of an exploration tax credit similar to that introduced in Norway in 2005, which led to a fourfold increase in exploration and appraisal wells within three years of its introduction.
Commenting, SNP Westminster Energy Spokesperson Mike Weir MP said:
“Low oil prices are something that the oil and gas industry has experienced before, but there is no doubt that it represents a challenge to the sector. If jobs are to be protected, then the industry needs the right support.
“The Scottish Government is playing its part in supporting the oil and gas sector, with initiatives such as the Energy Jobs Taskforce and the apprenticeship guarantees announced last week, and its funding for the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre.
“But it is long past time that Westminster moved to do its bit, and take the kind of action needed to support the oil and gas sector. We want responsibility for the sector to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament in the future, but right now Westminster is responsible, and the measures being called for by the Scottish Government need to be delivered now.
“And SNP MPs will make support for the sector and the jobs it supports a key priority, so that for as long as Westminster remains in charge the Treasury cannot be allowed to go back to treating this vital Scottish industry as a cash cow. That is why it is vital that a strong team of SNP MPs with real clout is elected at the General Election.
“Successive Westminster governments have been quick to squeeze the industry at any opportunity, but when support is needed they are far slower off the mark.
A strong team of SNP MPs will ensure that the needs of the sector cannot be put on the back burner, and that Westminster takes the action that is needed to protect jobs in the sector.”
Details of the Scottish Government actions can be viewed at http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Taskforce-set-up-to-support-oil-gas-jobs-1488.aspx
The Scottish Government’s paper on the future of the oil & gas sector can be viewed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0046/00467339.pdf