The UK Government has been urged to give “more detail” on planned support for the oil and gas industry in order to give the sector greater confidence.
Last week, as part of its long-awaited energy white paper, Westminster pledged to deliver a North Sea transition deal during the first half of 2021.
The document will set out plans for revitalising the energy sector, helping to speed up its transition away from hydrocarbons and towards renewables.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) also said it would act as a catalyst for jobs creation, as well as investment opportunities.
However, SNP MPs in the north-east have now penned a letter to the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, calling for a meeting to flesh out the announcement further.
Stephen Flynn, Kirsty Blackman, Richard Thomson and David Doogan, who represent Aberdeen South, Aberdeen North, Gordon and Angus respectively, also want a “categorical assurance” that the deal will be signed by April 1, 2021.
They said: “We write to you as representatives of the North East of Scotland in respective of your government’s announcement that a sector deal would be signed for the North Sea energy industry by Q1 of next year.
“The success of our corner of the world is intrinsically linked to the success of the energy industry, but as we have suffered from the perfect storm of both coronavirus and the downturn in oil and gas, hardly a week has passed without news of redundancies and hardship within the sector.
“Since February we have pressed and pressed for your government to make good on your manifesto commitment to deliver a sector deal and so while this news is welcome, we fear that much of the damage has already been done.
“It is now absolutely critical that categorical assurances are provided on the delivery of a deal and that more detail is made available to provide certainty to the industry and to those many thousands of people in our constituencies who depend on the future of the sector.
“Therefore, we ask that you meet with us to discuss your announcement further and to give us that categorical assurance that a deal will be signed by 1st April 2021.”
A “transformational” sector deal, which would support the North Sea industry as the UK moves towards a net zero economy, formed part of the Conservatives general election manifesto pledge in 2019.
The need for government support has been thrown into sharp focus in recent months as Covid-19 and the oil price crash brought the North Sea to its knees, leading to thousands of job losses.
And with widespread calls for the UK to “build back greener” from the pandemic, the industry will be anxious for support to be delivered as soon as possible.
Mr Flynn said: “We’ve called endlessly for the UK Government to deliver a sector deal in order to protect jobs and our economy and securing a commitment that one will be in place by the end of March was an incredibly important step.
“The devil will, as ever, be in the detail but we are hopeful that the reality of the situation facing Aberdeen and the wider North East will result in huge investment that builds on the support package put in place by the Scottish Government back in the summer.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The offshore oil and gas sector has a key role to play as we move to a net zero economy and we have committed to supporting those who work in it through the North Sea Transition Deal.
“This deal will focus on supporting high quality jobs in the UK, maximising the sector’s existing skills and boosting growth in new low carbon opportunities.”