There is “no crisis” in Scotland’s oil industry despite barrel prices plummeting and tens of thousands of workers losing their jobs, an SNP MSP has claimed.
Aberdeenshire West representative Dennis Robertson was slammed by Labour leader Kezia Dugdale after his “astonishing” claim during a Holyrood debate.
The Scottish Labour leader had spoken about the SNP’s track record in a number of areas including helping to support the North Sea oil and gas industry, during the debate on the Scottish economy.
In response to her comments, the SNP politician said there was “no crisis” with recent production figures from industry body Oil & Gas UK showing the industry was still buoyant.
He said: “The member has just mentioned a crisis in jobs for the North-east – there is no crisis.
“We have just extracted more oil than ever before in the North Sea.
“We have the most skilled workforce in the North Sea and it is booming.”
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said the comments by Robertson were “insensitive” to workers who had suffered job losses or faced the prospect of redundancy.
Oil & Gas UK has estimated around 65,000 jobs have been lost from across the sector since the decline in oil price began in 2014.
He said: “I was in complete astonishment that Dennis Robertson, who knows how important the oil industry is, would make such a comment.
“He represents the North East and is able to see the impact on jobs especially in the past few months. I was very surprised he would make such an insensitive comment.
“I think people who have lost their jobs in the industry will be very upset by the comments. I think for people who have kept their jobs – they are not throwing up their hands in despair – but they are very aware there is a risk of job losses.
“They will also be feeling for friends of family members who have lost their jobs.
Tommy Campbell, regional industrial organiser of Unite, reacted furiously. He said: “What planet is this man on?
“We know for a fact that 70,000 jobs have gone. That’s the equivalent of 15 big car factories or 15 shipyards.
“It’s as plain as the nose on your face that there is a crisis.
“There are families across Aberdeen that are really suffering and I call on Mr Robertson to withdraw his remarks and acknowledge that there is a crisis.”
Meanwhile Jenny Laing, leader of Aberdeen City Council, said the comments proved the SNP are not taking the situation seriously.
She added: “I don’t think anybody who represents this area could feel this is anything other than a crisis.
“Since we had our oil summit here and the First Minister came up with some fine words about how to help us we have had no action whatsoever.”