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Oil and gas: Politicians clash over route to renewable future

The Iron Lady barge with its cargo of a topside drilling platform for decommissioning being towed by Forth Ports tugs at the Forth Bridges into The Port of Rosyth. Airbourne Lens
The Iron Lady barge with its cargo of a topside drilling platform for decommissioning being towed by Forth Ports tugs at the Forth Bridges into The Port of Rosyth. Airbourne Lens

Boris Johnson’s government has claimed the north-east oil and gas sector can be at the forefront of a renewables revolution, sparking a backlash from Greens and the SNP.

Tory MP David Duguid, the UK Government Scotland minister, made the claim in a speech on decommissioning in the North Sea.

He said the UK can become a centre for excellence as it steps towards a “green recovery”, and support up to 250,000 jobs along the way.

However, the SNP insisted it has supported the region while successive Westminster governments “sold Scotland’s oil and gas industry short”.

Greens attacked the “dangerous fantasists” in government, saying the world needs to scrap all new oil and gas projects now.

Mr Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan, said the journey to net zero emissions will require a “green industrial revolution”.

‘Jobs revolution’

In an opinion piece for us, he wrote: “Key is taking the oil and gas industry along with us every step of the way, for this pivotal sector – which has delivered prosperity to the North East of Scotland and beyond for generations – has skills and technology to keep it at the forefront of the green jobs revolution.”

He highlighted a £27million Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone, £5m for the delivery of the Global Underwater Hub in Aberdeen and up to £2m for continued development of industry proposals for a transition deal.

“Decommissioning is hugely important and offers both challenges and opportunities, worth around £80bn in the next decade and over £250bn from 2022 onwards,” he added.

“It is the Government’s ambition for the UK that we are able to capitalise on the market opportunity and use this advantage to become a global decommissioning centre of excellence.”

“Pouring more money into oil and gas is neither green or a revolution.”

Green MSP Mark Ruskell.

Gillian Martin, SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said the Scottish Government has established a £62million energy transition fund, will invest £15m to retrain workers, and will appoint a “minister of just transition”.

“This stands in stark contrast to successive Westminster governments which have sold Scotland’s oil and gas industry short – choosing to siphon off North Sea revenues to line the pockets of the Treasury rather than investing in our local communities and public services,” she said.

“We’ve heard all of these empty promises from the Tories before. It’s time for Boris Johnson to put his money where his mouth is and ensure that areas like the north-east, where the economy has been built on oil and gas, are properly supported to make the transition to zero carbon.”

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said: “The UK Government needs to buy itself a dictionary. Pouring more money into oil and gas is neither ‘green’ or a ‘revolution’ – it’s throwing more money at the problem. The International Energy Agency has said the world needs to scrap all new oil and gas projects now, and the UK Government are dangerous fantasists to ignore them.

“The Scottish Greens are clear that securing a future for workers in the North Sea means investing in alternative jobs now, providing a truly green industrial revolution that would cut emissions and create jobs, rather than this reckless plan that threatens our survival and would leave communities on the scrapheap.”

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