Oil and Gas Industry Faces Uncertain Future in Scotland

Labour and SNP clash over tax plans and green policies

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Labour leader tries to reassure workers in the North Sea sector but faces criticism from the SNP.

The fate of the oil and gas industry in Scotland has become a hot topic in the run-up to the general election, as the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited Aberdeen to address the Scottish Labour faithful on Sunday.

Sir Keir pledged to support the sector and its workers, who have been hit hard by the global energy transition and the decline in demand for fossil fuels. He said that the work in the North Sea would continue “for decades” and highlighted the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which could reduce emissions by burying carbon dioxide underground.

He also defended Labour’s plan to raise taxes on the excess profits of oil and gas companies, saying that the money would be invested in green jobs and infrastructure. Sir Keir accused the SNP of using the problems of the industry as “fuel for their grand cause” of independence and urged Scots to vote for Labour to send a government to Westminster, not just a message.

SNP slams Labour’s tax plan

The SNP, which is leading the polls in Scotland, dismissed Sir Keir’s speech as “devastating” for the North East and said that Labour’s tax plan would “destroy jobs, devastate Aberdeen, decimate the economy and demolish any hopes of delivering net zero”.

The SNP spokesperson for energy and net zero, Dave Doogan MP, said: “The one thing we can be sure of is his Labour government will be devastating for the North East.

“Instead of reassuring businesses in the North East, Labour has doubled down on their latest tax proposals which would destroy jobs, devastate Aberdeen, decimate the economy, and demolish any hopes of delivering net zero.

“Sir Keir Starmer said in his speech that ‘working people never let each other down’ – considering his plans for our energy industry could cost 100,000 jobs he is letting working people down.

“The only way to stop Sir Keir Starmer’s plans is for voters in the North East to send Westminster a message by voting SNP in the upcoming general election.”

Industry calls for dialogue and support

The Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of the oil and gas industry, welcomed Sir Keir’s offer to work with the region to make the country more energy secure, but warned that Labour’s tax proposals would undermine it.

Ryan Crighton, policy director at the chamber, said: “The outcome of these proposed policies could be anywhere between 20,000 and 100,000 job losses according to analysts – and even trade unions are drawing comparisons with closure of the UK’s coal pits in the 1980s.”

He added: “It is welcome that Labour has this weekend acknowledged that the energy transition will only be possible if you leverage in the investment and support of the oil and gas industry.

“We need engagement and dialogue, starting today, to agree a path which protects jobs and helps Labour achieve its green prosperity plan, should it form the next government.”

The oil and gas industry employs about 270,000 people in the UK, mostly in Scotland, and contributes about £17 billion to the UK economy. However, it also accounts for about 15% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and faces pressure to align with the UK’s net zero target by 2050.

Hope for a green future

Despite the challenges and uncertainties, some experts and activists see an opportunity for the oil and gas industry to transform itself and play a positive role in the green economy.

Professor John Paterson, co-director of the Centre for Energy Law at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The industry has the skills, the technology and the infrastructure to make a significant contribution to the energy transition. CCS is one example, but there are also possibilities for hydrogen production, offshore wind, tidal and wave energy, and decommissioning.”

He added: “The industry needs to engage with the public and the government to show that it is serious about reducing its environmental impact and creating a sustainable future for itself and the country.”

Source: Energy Voice 

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