Energy pledge

Forbes: ‘Oil needs to keep flowing to create green jobs’

Kate Forbes addressing today’s Prosper Forum in Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes today hinted that the SNP is about to soften its position on the future of the North Sea and its opposition to new oil and gas fields.

She told a business conference that oil and gas companies should not “turn the taps off” and must continue re-investing their profits to retain the jobs needed for the transition to renewable sources.

She said it was important for the Scottish Government to “listen and understand” the industry.

Ms Forbes declined afterwards to say if there would be a change in the Government’s position on North Sea exploration.

Asked by Daily Business if her comments pointed to a softening of the government’s “presumption against further exploration for oil and gas” she said: “I can’t go any further than what I said earlier.”

However, her comments point to a further distancing of the SNP’s position from its former Green Party partners who want firmer action to shut down oil and gas wells.

Ms Forbes was responding to a question raised at the Prosper Forum in Edinburgh about the assurances she could give to the energy sector.

A delegate from the Port of Aberdeen said the industry needed to know that the “just transition” would be delivered in a “measured way that will retain jobs”.

Ms Forbes replied: “It means not turning the taps off before there are other jobs to go to.”

Referring to an Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce report earlier this week giving the new UK government “100 days to save 100,000 jobs”, Ms Forbes said: “Threatening 100,000 jobs in Scotland is not a just transition. We have to get this transition right.

“We need to listen and understand. We need oil and gas [companies] to continue to reinvest their profits. We need them to retain their skilled workers.”

She said the government’s plan for oil and gas has been delayed “but I hope it reflects the sentiments I have expressed today.”

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