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Sturgeon’s package of support for Aberdeen

Nicola Sturgeon at BIPC2015Oil and gas firms have been offered a £12.5 million package of support for developing technologies, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She also unveiled a £20m expansion at Aberdeen airport.

Scottish Enterprise will provide £10m in risk capital to help energy firms involved in research and development.

An additional £2.5m from the agency will help tackle problems through bespoke business resilience reviews focused on strategic, financial, operational or market issues.

The First Minister also announced that Scottish Enterprise has begun an extensive research project to analyse and understand the extent of gaps in the availability of finance for the oil and gas sector.

This additional funding for the North East complements £12m of support for individuals affected by the downturn in the industry to retain skills or to retrain – through a Transition Training Fund announced also announced today – and the £379m of infrastructure investment confirmed by the Scottish Government last week.

Speaking during a visit to Aberdeen, where she met a series of industry representatives, the First Minister said: “Scottish oil and gas firms are at the forefront of the industry with an expertise that has been built up over many decades, but they need to continually innovate and evolve to ensure they can retain their competitiveness.”

Lena WilsonDr Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise and chairman of Scotland’s Energy Jobs Taskforce said: “Despite a huge collective effort over the last year to help mitigate the pressures on Scotland’s oil and gas industry we continue to see and feel the impact of the low oil price.

“Innovation and access to finance is fundamental to any industry during challenging times and that’s why we’ve prioritised funding in these areas and are undertaking comprehensive research to make sure we fully understand the extend of funding gaps and can direct future support where it is needed the most.”

Aberdeen International Airport is to receive a £20 million terminal expansion and upgrade which will increase floor space at the terminal by 50%.

It will be the single biggest expansion of the airport since it was built in 1977.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This investment by Aberdeen International Airport and its owners shows great ambitions and confidence in the airport’s future in preparing for projected growth.

“By increasing capacity and improving the passenger experience, the airport is making a clear statement.”

The revamp will see new baggage areas, shops and restaurants.

Passenger numbers dipped by 7% last year to 3.5m although it remained the airport’s second biggest year on record.

The work is scheduled to complete by 2018.

> The chief executive of Centrica  Iain Conn has written to the chancellor urging him to act in the Budget next month and suspend the supplementary tax charges paid by oil companies on top of corporation tax.

In an interview with a newspaper, he says: “I have only seen a fall in oil prices like this once before. The North Sea is really hurting. The government needs to be agile here. It needs to encourage companies to keep their fields going and keep their people,”

> Comment: Tough times for Aberdeen, but just how tough?

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