The first minister has admitted that there is a “great deal” that needs to be done to protect oil and gas jobs – and insisted the Scottish Government is doing all it can to help alleviate the crisis.
Nicola Sturgeon said that her taskforce was working to minimise job losses, but that the UK Government needed to stop hampering progress in the sector.
The Conservative’s energy spokesman Murdo Fraser rounded on the first minister, saying she needed to do more than “pass the buck” while people are “worried about their futures”.
Labour’s energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald agreed that her efforts so far have only “scratched the surface” of the crisis affecting the North East.
Ms Sturgeon said: “There’s a great deal of challenge that we have to deal with but we also have to focus on the potential of the industry in the North Sea as well.
“I established back in January the energy jobs task force which Lena Wilson chairs.
“That was initially meant to be something that was operating for six months but we have now extended that.
“That has got the industry, unions and government around the table and that is looking in detail at what we can do on the ground. It is looking at how we can support the industry and help them deal with the challenges they face while minimising job losses.
“We continue to make suggestions to the UK government to make fiscal changes in the North Sea that will help support the sector over the medium term.”
But Mr Fraser hit back, accusing the first minister, who was speaking at a press event in Edinburgh, of failing to do enough to protect jobs.
He said: “It is high-time that Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government stopped passing the buck and started taking responsibility for some of the issues facing the North Sea oil industry.
“The UK Government have worked hard to make tax breaks available to oil and gas producers and have used consecutive budgets to support the industry.
“Workers in the North Sea worried about their futures will want to hear the First Minister talk less about blame and more about what can be done to sustain jobs in oil and gas.”
North East Scotland MSP Mr Macdonald said the first minister had “missed the point” on tackling the crisis.
He said: “This is not an either or issue. The UK government has shifted its fiscal position as well as its position on exploration.
“She has missed the point and the Scottish Government have not made any assessment on the impact of the oil price drop. They haven’t properly spoken to businesses in the regions affected and they have only scratched the surface of what is happening.”
Earlier this month the head of the Energy Taskforce set up by the Scottish Government in the wake of the oil price decline told Energy Voice there was no pretending about the the amount of time it would take the industry to recovery from its harsh “reality check”.
The sector’s “reality check” includes accepting jobs losses as a difficult truth, understanding that “quality jobs” can’t offer like-for-like salaries and considering the possibility of the industry pooling resources.