First Minister responds to crisis

SE chief Wilson to lead inquiry into oil jobs in North Sea

Lena WilsonFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a jobs task force headed by Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson (left) to tackle the crisis in the North Sea oil industry.

Ms Wilson’s taskforce has a broad energy remit but will focus on oil and gas. It will report to the Scottish Energy Advisory Board by the end of January.

The announcement came as more jobs are axed in the North Sea. Premier Oil, which is a big ­investor in the region, said it will cut spending on new developments globally in the next financial year by 40%. BP is cutting 200 posts and 100 contractor jobs from 3,500 working for the company in the North Sea.

Trevor Garlick, regional president for BP North Sea, said: “We are committed to the North Sea and see a long term future for our business here.

“However, given the well-documented challenges of operating in this maturing region and in toughening market conditions, we are taking specific steps to ensure our business remains competitive and robust, and we are aligning with the wider industry.

The energy industry supports almost 2,000 Scottish supply chain companies and 225,000 jobs across the country.

Ms Sturgeon, who used a visit to Aberdeen on Wednesday to accuse the Westminster government of mismanaging oil and gas taxation, also announced a guarantee for Modern Apprentices in Scotland’s oil and gas sector .

She said this would ensure that any faced with redundancy will be offered alternative employment or continued off the job training pending alternative employment.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The North Sea has made an enormous contribution to the Scottish and UK economies over the last 40 years. It is now vital, in order to prolong the life of the industry beyond 2050 and maximise economic benefits, that the UK Government maintains the momentum for fiscal and regulatory change in the oil and gas sector.

“The recent drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil, combined with the mismanagement of oil and gas fiscal policy by the UK Government, and other challenges facing the industry, pose a threat to a number of jobs.”

The First Minister, clearly mindful of Scottish Labour accusations that the Scottish Government has said little on the falling oil price, said she would be bringing the Cabinet to Aberdeen next month.

“I expect all Cabinet Secretaries will be out and about speaking to the community and those in industry, to establish what more can be usefully done over the coming months.

“I will also co-chair a meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board meeting, bringing Ministers, academics and industry experts together to get a clear understanding of the issues facing the sector in Scotland.

“We will shortly be announcing details of the public discussion and I want to hear from as many people as possible, I encourage people to take up the invitation and make their views heard to the Cabinet.”

Scottish Labour’s report “Protecting Jobs, Protecting Public Services” says the SNP’s approach to oil would risk jobs and cut public services in Scotland.  It includes 10 points explaining why First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should change the Scottish Government’s approach to oil.

It says that with the General Election looming, the SNP have repeatedly stated that they will campaign to end the Barnett Formula, “which would rip at least £4 billion away from public spending in Scotland.”

With oil prices falling and the SNP pushing to bin Barnett, Scottish Labour have said that a vote for the SNP could leave Scotland with a choice between massive job losses or billions of pounds of cuts.

Scottish Labour Finance Spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Oil jobs appear to be an afterthought for the First Minister, who only contacted Union officials in Aberdeen to arrange a meeting on Monday.”

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