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Wilson chairs first meeting in Aberdeen

Oil jobs taskforce meets amid renewed calls from Ewing for tax cut

Lena WilsonThe oil industry crisis group set up by the Holyrood government will meet for the first time this week amid renewed calls for urgent action from Westminster.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish energy minister, is supporting the industry’s demands for cuts in taxes that will help ensure investment in the North Sea continues.

“There is a real risk that the current fall in the oil price will lead to the premature decommissioning of assets and the loss of highly skilled workers. Within this context, I think it is vital that the UK Government acts now,” he said today.

“Chief among the action required is an immediate reversal of the 2011 hike in the Supplementary Charge and I made it clear that it is not sufficient for this change to wait until the March budget as Alistair Carmichael suggested last week.

“Last year, the UK Government announced a 2 per cent reduction of the Supplementary Charge rate – this reduction doesn’t go far enough. In boardrooms worldwide, oil companies are now making decisions which will impact on jobs in Scotland. Investors need a strong signal that the North Sea is open for business and that the UK Government understand the needs of the industry – and they need that signal now.”

The Energy Jobs taskforce, set up by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is chaired by Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson (pictured). It will report to the Scottish Energy Advisory Board and will focus on jobs across the entire industry, but with an initial emphasis on the oil and gas sector. It meets on Wednesday in Aberdeen.

Ms Wilson said: “We’ve made quick progress in forming this Taskforce which represents a strong and united public and private sector partnership that is committed to working together to support this vital industry throughout these challenging times. While current circumstances are difficult, we also need to remember that this is a resilient industry – one which has weathered the storm before and will do so again.

“We have an urgent and immediate task at hand to retain the jobs, skills and talent which is the bedrock of Scotland’s internationally competitive energy sector. The depth of knowledge and expertise this newly formed Taskforce offers will undoubtedly make an invaluable contribution to that task and help shape support to meet the current and future need for our energy sector.”

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