The Tories have been accused of breaking key promises made to the Scottish oil and gas sector during one of its most challenging periods by the SNP in Westminster and in Holyrood.
On a visit to Aberdeen in January 2016, then Tory Prime Minister David Cameron announced the appointment of an Oil and Gas Ambassador “to help ensure the best possible access for UK companies to markets overseas, promote the North Sea around the world and boost inward investment”.
In an embarrassing revelation it now appears that 19 months later there has been no appointment made and the Tories had hoped to quietly ditch the initiative altogether.
The new Brit-Govt Energy Minister, Tory MP Richard Harrington yesterday confirmed he had no knowledge of the proposal for an Oil and Gas Ambassador – despite it being a significant energy announcement made in the course of a high level visit to Scotland by the Prime Minister. He also claimed to have little knowledge of the energy industry altogether.
In the course of ‘missing person’ enquiries into what became of the initiative, the UK government sought to cover up the fact the initiative was mothballed, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) blaming the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and BEIS in turn blaming the DTI.
Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North MP and SNP Economy Spokesman at Westminster, said: “This is deeply, deeply embarrassing for the Tories – they’ve been caught red handed.
“Not only have they broken promises made to the oil and gas industry in its hour of need they’ve conspired to brush their inaction under the carpet.
“The UK government simply cannot be trusted on oil and gas – they should put the powers to make a difference into the hands of the Scottish Parliament.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, reiterated the ‘give us the power in Scotland’ message to N. Sea industry chiefs at a meeting in Aberdeen.
He said: “Some of the key levers are not in the Scottish Government’s control and we are encouraging UK ministers to think positively about tax changes that might help the industry, on areas like decommissioning to grow that supply chain and with late life assets and also to help the industry help secure the infrastructure that is there and make sure it is maintained.”
When questioned about the ‘lower for longer’ price of crude oil, Wheelhouse said: “It’s really important that we do take heed of the oil price environment but we also do everything we can to reduce unnecessary costs within the system and make the place as attractive as possible.”
1 Sept 2017