Westminster has been urged to give a “cast iron guarantee” that the north-east will be home to one of two promised carbon capture and storage (CCS) clusters.
Stephen Flynn, SNP MP for Aberdeen South, said if the region were overlooked by the UK Government, it would be a “devastating” blow.
As part of its 10 Point Plan, released last year, the UK Government committed to establishing two industrial CCS clusters by the mid-2020s.
That’s due to increase to four by 2030, with the aim of capturing 10 megatonnes of CO2 per year.
A decision on the first two clusters is expected to be made in October.
The Acorn project
As the gateway to the North Sea oil and gas industry, many are hoping the north-east will be given the nod to forge ahead with CCS.
The Acorn CCS and hydrogen project, based at St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, is one of the most advanced projects of its kind in the UK.
With chief backers Shell, Harbour Energy and Storegga, the scheme is looking to repurpose existing oil and gas assets to allow for the storage of emissions.
Nevertheless, there are still concerns that the project may be left behind in favour of clusters in England.
Responding to calls in parliament from Mr Flynn to give an assurance that the north-east will not miss out, Mr Jack said: “As you know that’s under review; we want Acorn to be one of the tier one projects and we’re pressing for that.
“I think you should press for your colleagues and your government in Scotland to support the oil and gas industry.”
Back in 2015, Westminster pulled the plug on a £1 billion competition to establish CCS to abate emissions from power stations.
Two projects were in the running – the White Rose scheme in Yorkshire and the Peterhead Power Plant.
Prior to that, BP axed its plans for a hydrogen plant and CCS scheme, also in Peterhead, that would have stored emissions in the Miller field.
The oil and gas giant blamed the decision on UK Government delays.
A ‘cast iron guarantee’
Mr Flynn, the SNP Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spokesman, has previously called for Acorn to front of the queue for government backing, underlining its importance in enabling a just transition.
Commenting following his question to Mr Jack, he said: “Our region was badly let down in 2015 when the Tories pulled the plug on funding for carbon capture technology in Peterhead and we simply can’t afford to let history repeat itself.
“We need a cast iron guarantee that the North East will be home to one of the initial CCUS clusters, but the fact the Secretary of State for Scotland couldn’t do that is worrying – this sort ambiguity does nothing to alleviate concerns that the North East will be left behind in favour of sites in England.
“There can be no fair energy transition without the North East being at the very forefront of investment so it’s deeply concerning that many months after the long awaited Transition Deal was announced, we have no further detail on CCUS and no tangible support actually invested in the North East from the UK Government.
He added: “Any failure to commit to the project would devastating for the North East and would dramatically hinder our ability to achieve net zero.”