The Labour Party in Scotland today publishes its Oil and Gas Action Plan (see below) to secure the future of the N. Sea industry and will call on MPs in all parties in the Scottish Parliament to give it their support.
And the party is also calling for an urgent ‘Industry Summit’ – involving operators, regulator, and trade unions – even as the Oil and Gas UK trade association is holding its annual conference in Aberdeen.
Having already lost 110,000 jobs in the UK supply chain – including 10,000 directly-employed jobs in Grampian – Labour said it was time for politicians to take action to secure the long term future of the oil and gas industry and protect jobs.
The move comes after the Labour party upstaged the minority-SNP Govt led by Nicola Sturgeon in winning a parliamentary vote for an outright ban on shale energy exploration in Scotland and today’s motion at Holyrood has been drafted to be’ inclusive so that every party’ can to support it.
This is another shrewd political move by the Labour party; While the Scottish Greens will not support it, Sturgeon can hardly order her MSPs to abstain over the Oil and Gas Action Plan like they did over shale gas and the Tories and Liberals may wish to support Labour to ‘get one over the SNP’ on a key jobs-and-economy issue.
Labour is also calling for:
- A new public body – UK Offshore Investment Limited (UK OIL) – UK Offshore Investment Limited (UK OIL) – to protect Scotland’s vital oil and gas industry
- A new North East Regional Economic Forum
- An Export Markets Plan, and
- A Transferable Skills Plan to help redundant oil workers move to jobs in renewable energy and engineering sectors
Jackie Baillie, MSP, Labour’s Economy spokesman in Holyrood, said: “Labour is putting forward a positive plan today to secure the future of our oil and gas industry. We’re asking parties across this Chamber to put the needs of our economy first, to work with trade unions, the public sector and the industry, and take action to support the oil and gas sector and protect jobs and skills.
“We need to renew our efforts given the scale of the challenge we face in the North Sea – we need a renewed plan which means action now as well as long-term solutions.
“Labour believes we need an urgent review of the measures to protect jobs and skills. For example, the SNP Transition Training Fund is well intentioned but questions need to be asked if it is being delivered properly if it has offered support to only 91 people since it was implemented.
“In the long-term we need to look at a joined up economic strategy for the North East, a public body to protect important assets at times of volatility in the oil price, investment in decommissioning for when the time comes, and exporting the skills that Scotland has to capture opportunities in the rest of the world.
“The sustained drop in oil prices is enormously challenging to the oil and gas industry and to our economy. With 120,000 jobs likely to be lost before the end of 2016, we must do everything we can to protect employment and skills.”
Scottish Labour’s Oil and Gas Action Plan
The UK’s oil and gas industry faces a challenging future. Without significant action, jobs will continue to be lost and Scotland’s wider economy affected. Whilst measures over the past year have been welcome, it has now reached a critical juncture.
Our plan seeks cross-party support so that this vital sector for Scotland and the UK economy can navigate the challenges ahead and avoid premature decline.
- Urgent industry summit– we support the call from trade unions for an industry summit involving operators, regulators, government at all levels and trade unions.
- Publish an Oil and Gas bulletin – we need a proper response to the oil jobs crisis. That means assessing the impact of the oil price on the wider Scottish economy and a commitment from the Scottish Government to publishing regular oil and gas bulletins with a specific focus on the impact of oil prices on jobs right through the industry.
- Immediate review of the Transition Training Fund– there should be an immediate review of the Scottish Government’s £12 million Transition Training Fund to ensure it is working effectively. Recent reports show that only 91 people have received assistance from the Fund.
- North-East regional economic forum– establish a North-East regional economic forum involving trade unions and civic society as well as public sector and commercial interests to deal with immediate issues and map out future strategy for the area.
- Creation of UK Offshore Investment Limited (UK OIL)– we have previously called for the creation of a new public body – UK Offshore Investment Limited (UK OIL) – to protect Scotland’s vital oil and gas industry. This body would identify areas for temporary public investment, as well as conducting an “open book” review with the Oil and Gas Authority to identify assets that have long term viability and profitability. This would allow UK OIL to commit to public investment in strategic infrastructure and potentially profitable assets. Examples of the type of assets that could require public investment include platforms and pipelines that are strategically important for the industry. We will continue to lobby the UK Government for the creation of UK Offshore Investment Limited (UK OIL) and would welcome support from the Scottish Government and other parties in the Scottish Parliament.
- Publish an Export Markets Plan– the skills that have been built up in the UK’s oil and gas sector can be taken across the world to new areas of exploration. Ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections, Oil & Gas UK called for the next Scottish Government to create a supportive business environment in Scotland “enabling Scotland to deliver strong exports of oilfield goods and services”. The Scottish Government should have a role in exporting those skills.
- Plan for transferable jobs and skills– technology and skills transfer into other sub-sea offshore technologies like renewable energy requires planning and co-ordination by the Scottish Government which has a lead responsibility for renewables, skills and training and industrial policy including engineering and construction.
- Support investment in decommissioning– the growing oil and gas decommissioning industry has a current market value of between £30 billion and £40 billion in the North Sea. As the Bank of Scotland Oil & Gas reported this month, decommissioning is most keenly seen as a major opportunity by big companies (57%). We are restating our call for a strategy from the Scottish Government to bring this investment here, and will continue to argue that the North-East is well placed geographically and have the skilled workforce to compete for these projects.
Labour’s Holyrood motion for debate is:
That Parliament notes recent reports which indicate that Scotland’s economy faces many challenges in the coming year with GDP growth forecasts downgraded;
Further notes in particular the decline in the oil and gas industry with reported jobs losses of more than 120,000 since 2014 as reported by Oil & Gas UK recently, alongside research from the Bank of Scotland which shows a third of businesses in the oil and gas industry plan to cut jobs further during this year showing the scale of the challenge;
Welcomes the Scottish government’s Transition Training Fund but notes that it has been reported it has helped only 91 people, and:
Calls on all parties in Parliament to work together to support the critical situation the oil and gas industry faces so that jobs and skills are supported and for action to be taken to support the industry in the short, medium and long-term.
UK Oil and Gas ‘old guard’ told: You’ve got just 24 months to save the British N. Sea industry
COMMENT: Time for a unified single Scottish energy trade association – just like the East of England (all) Energy Association