Holyrood debate

Oil sector drawn into MSPs row over green transition

BP Clair Ridge

Oil’s future continues to divide MSPs

North Sea oil and gas leaders have been drawn into an ongoing row over the industry’s role in the transition to a carbon-free economy.

OGUK, which represents the industry, said a debate in parliament showed the two largest parties in the Scottish parliament – the SNP and the Conservatives – to be in agreement on the need to ensure the UK is not forced to import supplies because of premature cutbacks in domestic fields.

But the Tories claimed there was no such consensus and that the SNP had “turned its back” on the industry under pressure from its new Green Party partners who want an early end to exploration.

The debate was called by the Tories to challenge the SNP’s commitment to the sector and undeveloped fields such as Cambo. Afterwards OGUK CEO Deirdre Michie, said: “We agree the oil and gas industry’s companies, workers and skills will be crucial to helping Scotland meet its climate targets.

“All projections show society will be using some oil and gas well beyond 2045 so it’s better if we can produce our own rather than increase reliance on other countries.

“Today’s debate recognised our industry’s vital role in Scotland’s future. Now we need to work together to make it a reality.”

Michael Matheson, Scottish government Secretary for Energy, told MSPs that the skills and expertise of the sector would be a “huge asset in helping us to achieve net zero.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is working with the energy sector in Scotland, including the oil and gas sector, not only to secure the environmental benefits of decarbonising the energy system, but to secure and seize the economic opportunity.

“The transition to net zero must be made in a way that is just for the workers, which is key, but also for the sector, and for our energy needs.”

However, the Tories, claimed the debate revealed that “the SNP’s decision to abandon the North Sea sector is a radical, unfair move.”

The Tories say an early shutdown of the industry, as demanded by the Scottish government’s Green party partners, would put 100,000 jobs at risk and potentially force Britain to rely on imports.

Liam Kerr, North East MSP and Scottish Conservative spokesman on net zero, told parliament: “We need these skills to pioneer greener, energy, and to develop carbon capture, hydrogen, and offshore wind at scale. Losing them would undermine our transition.”

Speaking after the debate, he said: “For the first time, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear the SNP is now an outright opponent of future oil and gas projects. The damaging influence of the extremist Greens is now apparent.”

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