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US firm’s $1bn North Sea pledge

President Obama
President Obama

Plans for a billion-dollar cash injection in the North Sea will be unveiled today by Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama.

The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s leading investment managers, is putting £660million into the offshore oil and gas industry.

The deal has been hailed as a “clear vote of confidence” in the sector amid fears about the effect of tumbling world oil prices on north-east jobs.

A Carlyle Group insider said it was not dissuaded by the current concerns, adding: “Where everyone else sees problems we see opportunities.”

Catherine Armstrong, the firm’s head of media relations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said it had a dedicated energy fund that it was looking to use offshore in the North Sea.

She was tight-lipped about possible projects, but explained: “What we have is a large pot of money, several billion to invest all over the world and of that over £600million will be invested in North Sea oil and gas projects in the coming year.”

North-east MSP and Scottish Labour energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald said he hoped Carlyle’s decision would be a signal to others investors around the world to follow suit.

“While clearly £660million is a lot of money in anyone’s book, in the context of North Sea oil investment it is not in itself a game changer,” he said. “It is welcome, it will help but in the big picture the investment decisions being made are being measured in the billions not the millions.”

The investment forms the lion’s share of a £1.1billion package of deals by US and UK companies to be unveiled by Mr Cameron and Mr Obama as they meet in Washington DC to discuss their response to the global terror threat.

The prime minister said: “The North Sea is one of the UK’s most valuable assets and the £660million the Carlyle Group has committed to invest in its oil and gas industry is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the local industry.”

The package also includes Marriott Investments’ £80million plans for new Moxy Hotel developments in Aberdeen, as well as at London’s Royal Docks, Heathrow and Stratford, which will create up to 100 jobs.

A Carlyle spokesman said: “We are committed to the future potential for North Sea oil and gas production and related services under an appropriately restructured fiscal and regulatory framework. There is an important role for us and other investors to play in helping to shape and deliver this next phase of North Sea production.”

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