New UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon said yesterday the government was determined to break away from the revolving-door policy that has given the north-east 14 energy ministers in 16 years.
The comments came despite the fact his predecessor, fellow-Conservative John Hayes, lasted only six months in office.
Speaking during his first visit as minister to the Granite City, he said: “On coming to office, David Cameron was determined to get away from the annual change of ministers.
“That’s why we had Charles Hendry for two-and-a-half years which gave the industry some stability.”
Mr Hendry, who won broad support from the sector for his frequent visits and understanding of the industry, was unexpectedly replaced by John Hayes last year.
Mr Hayes’s outspoken views on limiting the spread of wind turbines, however, frequently clashed with those of Energy Secretary Ed Davey.
Talking about Mr Hayes’s surprise removal to the prime minister’s office last month, Mr Fallon said: “Occasionally some ministers do have to be moved, but what David Cameron didn’t do was to promote someone entirely new.
“I’ve been working on the oil and gas strategy and meeting a lot of oil and gas companies.”
Mr Fallon, who has also retained his position as enterprise minister, added that his new responsibilities were a “natural fit” to his current portfolio, which includes the aerospace and marine sectors.
He said his visit recognised the importance of the oil and gas industry as a growth sector.
“Oil and gas is a big part of our energy mix at the moment because nuclear, fracking and offshore wind are very much for the future.
“Oil and gas is here now, that’s the difference.”
He gave his support to the UK government’s oil and gas strategy launched by Lib Dem ministers Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Michael Moore in Aberdeen last month.
Mr Fallon was visiting a number of firms working in the oil service sector in the Granite City, including subsea company Bibby Offshore. He added: “I hope to be around for quite a long time.”