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Oil and Gas Industry

Volume 674: debated on Wednesday 25 March 2020

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the Government’s role in supporting the oil and gas industry. (901673)

I regularly discuss with the ministerial team from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy matters of importance to Scotland, including the significant support that the UK Government provide to the oil and gas industry. As I said earlier, I have been communicating with stakeholders across Scotland, one of which is Oil & Gas UK. I spoke to it last week to ensure that the industry is informed of current arrangements, and to ensure that the Government understand the impact of those arrangements on the industry and can support it wherever possible.

Clearly the future of the oil and gas industry in the North sea is of the utmost importance to the UK economy, and the industry will need a long-term view. What measures can my hon. Friend introduce to ensure that the industry is protected and enhanced as we move towards a carbon neutral future?

I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend’s assessment. It is crucial to continue to support the oil and gas industry in the transition to net zero. That is reflected in our manifesto commitment to working with the sector on a transformational sector deal. The oil and gas sector is already assessing what could form part of this deal through its “Roadmap 2035”, which addresses how the industry can be part of the solution to the challenges that the transition to a net zero economy will bring.

I ask the Minister to speak with some urgency to Oil & Gas UK about the situation of offshore workers. In the last week or so, I have received representations from constituents who are offshore, who have had their crew change delayed and so have to work extra weeks. Some are concerned that going offshore may take them into an environment in which they are not properly protected. Can he assure us that while offshore workers may well be out of sight, they will not be out of mind?

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Offshore workers may be out of sight, but they are not out of mind for him as a constituency Member, for me as a Minister in the Scotland Office, or for the Secretary of State. This issue has been raised with me by others in the Aberdeen area. Last week, I discussed this and other matters with Oil & Gas UK, and we have a call later this week to discuss this further. I will reference the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks to them, and will perhaps get back to him after that further discussion.

Will my hon. Friend update the House on what discussions he has had with the Business Secretary regarding the latter’s role as president of COP26 in Glasgow? Does my hon. Friend believe that this vital conference will promote the UK as a world leader in tackling climate change, and that we must ensure that it goes ahead after coronavirus ends?

Understandably, all the efforts of this Government, and Governments around the world, are focused on tackling the coronavirus outbreak, but we look forward to welcoming leaders from around the globe—in November, hopefully—to discuss this emergency, and to hear the concerns and solutions of Governments across the world. Glasgow will be a hub for these discussions, not just in the 11 days of COP26 in November, but in the period leading up to it, and after it.