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North Sea Oil and Gas

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 18 December 2013

7. What assessment he has made of the interim report by Sir Ian Wood on the future regulation of oil and gas extraction in the North sea. (901639)

The interim report by Sir Ian Wood has given Government and industry alike plenty to think about and that is exactly why we asked him to carry out his review in the first place. After his final report is submitted early next year, the Government will set out our plans to make the most of our offshore oil and gas fields.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. He will be aware that Sir Ian Wood’s report refers to much of the North sea as a mature environment and to the need for collaboration to maximise the economic recovery for what is, by record, a volatile and, by definition, diminishing resource. Does he agree that the fragmentation of fiscal and regulatory regimes through separate arrangements for Scotland and for the rest of the UK continental shelf would minimise the chance of achieving that outcome?

I think it is very clear to all who have an informed view of the industry that its best future lies as part of the United Kingdom, rather than as part of a Scotland separated from the rest of the United Kingdom. It is a mature industry that still has a great deal to offer, but it is telling that the Scottish Government’s recent White Paper gives absolutely no guarantees about the future of field allowances in the industry, which will be absolutely crucial to its future development.

Is not the most exciting thing about Sir Ian Wood’s report the consensus he has discovered in the industry, which is that with more regulation and a stronger regulator with more resources there is the potential to unlock even greater investment, supporting jobs, taxpaying and energy security?

The real strength of the Wood report, at least the interim version, is its credibility in the industry, because it has been informed by the industry and led by one of its most respected figures.