Our oil and gas industry is a significant asset for Scotland.
Despite recent challenges, oil and gas remains one of the many strengths across Scotland’s economy.
The latest Oil and Gas production figures show an encouraging rise in production and should be a reminder of the potentially bright future for our North Sea industry. This represents the largest increase for 15 years and demonstrates the sector is adapting to the current global economic climate.
But we are absolutely aware of the impact the low oil price continues to have. It is why supporting the industry’s sustainability remains our top priority. And it is why we have been quick to act and support the industry and oil and gas workers as best we can.
While we should remember the UK Government retains control of the main economic and tax levers affecting the North Sea oil industry, the Scottish Government continues to do all that it can. For example, just yesterday the Energy Jobs Taskforce that met for the 11th time in Aberdeen.
Our support also includes £24.5 million for increased innovation and business-support measures and the Transition Training Fund, which offers grants to individuals to support their redeployment through retraining or further education.
But one level of Government, or one stakeholder acting alone will not be sufficient to do all that our oil and gas companies need. We have worked to bring people together on this important issue – from the business themselves, to unions and regulators.
And we have pushed the UK Government to do more.
For example, we will maintain pressure on the Treasury to honour promises made in last March’s budget to use the UK Guarantees Scheme for oil and gas infrastructure to help secure new investment in assets of strategic importance.
This is crucial in terms of capital expenditure on oil and gas fields in Scottish waters – which is estimated to be at £10.2 billion in 2015/16. I secured promises from the Treasury that action would be forthcoming in our most recent meeting.
But we are still to see the detail.
At the very least there must be an update when the Chancellor delivers his autumn statement later this year – but ideally I want to see movement before then. I know this is a crucial issue for the industry – and I will keep making the compelling case that has been made to me that the Uk Government must act, and must act now.
Keith Brown is Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work