MPs urge action on oil and gas sector deal

Friday March 15th, 2019

MPs from across the political spectrum urged the UK Government to make progress on a vital deal to sustain the North Sea energy industry.8793_carbon

Peter Wishart, chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC), said it is “imperative” that skills built up over the last four decades are not lost, and that a deal would play a crucial role.

The SAC was debating a report it produced last month on the merits of a £175m package for the sector, funded by industry and government, which could yield up to £110bn for the economy between now and 2035.

It focuses on the creation of three new centres of excellence for transformational technology, underwater innovation and decommissioning.

The pact would help the industry overcome challenges including the volatile oil price and a “nose-dive” in new exploration levels.

It would also seek to help transfer skills to other sectors including aerospace and renewable energy.

Business and Industry Minister Richard Harrington, whose remit includes sector deals, said the report shows the “huge potential” of the North Sea.

Mr Wishart welcomed the minister’s comments but said more detail is needed on how other parts areas of the proposed deal are being advanced.

He said: “I recognise that we’re making solid progress when it comes to the global hub for decommissioning.

“I think we need to hear a bit more about of the other ambitions which we put forward and we believe should be included in the sector deal, particularly when it comes to transformational technology and some of the underwater innovations.

“We have a real opportunity to be world-beaters here and we cannot lose this because it is so important to the sector.”

Members also spoke of the importance of the low-carbon transition for the future of the industry, including transfer of skills.

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