The oil and gas industry is vital to our economy and provides more than 350,000 jobs. The Government are committed to supporting it. Our latest projections show that in 2030, oil and gas will still be a core part of our energy mix, providing nearly 70% of the UK’s primary energy requirements. Our commitment to the industry is the precise reason why we have established the Oil and Gas Authority, which is charged with working with the industry to maximise the economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources.
The oil and gas industry has asked the Government for further tax reliefs to incentivise exploration activity. Professor Alex Kemp of the University of Aberdeen has described them as
“clearly necessary to exploit the remaining physical potential”
of the North sea. What consideration has the Minister given to a refundable tax credit for exploration?
The hon. Lady will be aware that the Chancellor has already improved the fiscal regime significantly to encourage further exploration in the North sea basin. Just before Christmas, we had a series of meetings with North sea basin participants, the Oil and Gas Authority and others to discuss what other measures could be taken. Further fiscal measures are certainly on the table, but so too are vital measures such as getting production costs down, making more efficiencies and sharing infrastructure. The OGA is absolutely focused on doing those things.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) for raising this question and to the Minister for her reply. I acknowledge the work that the Government have done in the sector, but will the Minister give me her assurance that in the lead-up to the Budget in March, she will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that this vital industry secures the support that it needs at this difficult time?