Energy poll

Most Scots want North Sea to continue pumping oil

Oil field
Production of oil and gas should continue, say Scots

Three-quarters of Scots support domestic oil and gas production from the North Sea, according to a poll which turns the pressure on climate campaigners demanding a halt to operations.

Less than a month out from the general election, the data shows 75% would rather see the UK meet its energy demands from domestic sources than import from overseas.

The Scotland-wide polling, carried out by Survation for advisory firm True North, comes as the sector takes centre-stage in the ongoing election campaign, while the UK’s energy production hits the lowest level on record since 1948. 

By a factor of four to one, people see energy companies operating in the North Sea as an economic force for good, according to the polling.

The poll comes after production at one of Scotland’s largest new oil projects, Buchan, in the Moray Firth, has been delayed by a year over uncertainty about the next government’s tax plans.

Half (51%) of respondents to the survey believe Labour’s GB Energy company will reduce household bills, and 56% say it should take ownership stakes in large-scale projects such as offshore wind farms. 

Survey data published last week showed Aberdeen as Scottish voters’ preferred location for GB Energy’s headquarters. Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, told Daily Business that a decision will be taken after the election and that Aberdeen has “a strong case”.

Campaigners want oil production to stop (pic: Terry Murden)

There has been some confusion over the role of GB Energy with Mr Sarwar saying twice in a week that it would generate power. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it would be an investment business, funded by an extended windfall tax on oil and gas.

He has dismissed claims by investment bank Stifel last month that Labour’s proposals would put 100,000 jobs at risk and says that, on the contrary, they will create jobs.

Commenting on the survey, True North senior energy adviser Allister Thomas said: “As North Sea production reaches record lows, with projects stuck in the investment doldrums, this is a clear signal to politicians to get the sector back on track. 

“The alternative is more imports, which government data tells us is already seeing record high levels of LNG from the US, nearly four times more carbon intensive than domestic supply. That’s bad for the planet and bad for business – the UK will realise little of the economic benefit if we are buying in more energy from overseas. 

“As they aspire to become the next UK government, Labour will be buoyed that 51% Scots think GB Energy can reduce their household bills. 

“However, there are significant risks – and stark warnings from experts across the energy sector – that more punitive taxes on energy will drive investment out of the market, rather than helping to bridge the renewable jobs gap. 

“I suspect energy transition will remain a major focus in this campaign over the coming weeks as the parties continue to set out their stall.”

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