Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is “not dead” despite the UK government having pulled funding for a major project of the experimental technology in Peterhead, Scotland’s energy minister has claimed.
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy, said the UK government’s decision to drop a £1billion funding package for the Peterhead power station CCS project was a “poor decision” and one that could be revised under a comprehensive energy strategy the Scottish Government will devise this year.
He said: “I hope that can be resurrected. There may be a means by which we can maintain infrastructure and that could be a possibility that might help sustain the costs of decommissioning as well.”
Mr Wheelhouse was in Aberdeen to attend a North Sea oil summit convened by Aberdeen City Council to assess the impact of the low oil price on the region’s economy.
The South of Scotland MSP, who replaced Fergus Ewing in the energy role following the Scottish general election in May, said: “I’m keen to engage with the council and stakeholders locally just to say we are serious about helping the industry. It’s a new minister but no change in support for the industry.
“Also to see if there are practical steps we can take over an above what has been discussed.
“Time has passed since the first summit, there may be other ideas that stakeholders have about how Scottish Government or UK government and others can work together to help the industry.”
One of the key planks of Scottish Government support for the troubled oil and gas industry is pressuring the UK government to make good on pledges to offer loan guarantees to companies.
He said this was not likely to be derailed by the recent vote to leave Europe which has seen both the Conservative and Labour parties in Westminster caught up in leadership campaigns.
Government-backed loan notes could be used to support firms to obtain exploration and production assets, he said.
“It is a commitment that has been given already. There has been in advance of the referendum quite a bit of dialogue between government and industry on this issue.
“But we need to see action.
“Irrespective of which prime minister emerges in due course at UK level. there is nothing to stop the UK government committing to this now.
“There is a considerable degree of uncertainty out there.
“To help compensate for that, some certainty about the long term financial position for the sector would help address some of this.”
He confirmed that the Scottish Government’s flagship £12million Transition Training Fund was experiencing “much better take up” after being criticised for not doing enough to help tends of thousands of people in the north-east put out of work as a result of the fall in oil prices.
He said over 170 people had now been allocated funding for retraining programmes and that 1,200 had registered with Skills Development Scotland (SDS). This came after a website for registrants was launched and eligibility criteria had been relaxed, he said.