ENERGY Secretary Ed Miliband claimed last night tax reliefs in the last Budget will help develop new oil and gas finds in the North Sea.
He spoke out after Oil and Gas UK chief executive Malcolm Webb warned of an “energy crunch” if the government does not do more to help the offshore sector, with the danger of billions of barrels being left unrecovered.
Mr Miliband said the new field allowance announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling “was designed to bring about investment in the North Sea”.
Responding to a question in the Commons from Aberdeen South Labour MP Anne Begg, he also urged more talks with the industry in the joint Pilot forum, adding: “We want to continue our discussions with the industry about how we can best help it in future.”
Miss Begg said Oil and Gas UK’s annual report showed the industry would play an important part in the energy sector for the foreseeable future. She said: “Key to that are enhanced recovery and lengthening the time for which reserves will be developed. How can the government help to ensure that the industry does not shut up shop and go elsewhere, but continues to develop the North Sea?”
Mr Miliband said the new relief was intended to do just that.
The Oil and Gas Report showed investment in the offshore industry fell to £4.8billion in 2008 – down £1.2billion since 2006, despite the increase in both oil and gas prices and Mr Webb warned investment could drop below £3billion next year .
SNP energy spokesman Mike Weir called on the UK Government to act to ensure North Sea oil and gas industry skills are utilised for a new industry in offshore renewable energy generation. He said: “Those skills can be transferred to provide a new offshore renewable industry and jobs far into the future.”