Corporation tax treatment of the oil and gas industry

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 5th September 2016.

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Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Lords) 7:30 pm, 5th September 2016

The hon. Gentleman should listen to what I said. Statoil’s “Energy Perspectives” report reckons that even if we have a huge push towards renewable technologies and towards reducing carbon emissions, we will still need between 78 million and 116 million barrels of oil a day—and that is while taking on board, and increasing, the very best of these technologies. We will still continue to need, for example, road surfaces that are made from heavy oil. We will still continue to need these things, so we will always need oil, or at least for a long way into the future until we come up with credible alternatives. It is not just about energy or about electricity generation; it is about all the different things that we use oil for, including plastics.

It is very important to make sure that we have a great future in exporting. I have never been to Houston, but I am told that one cannot go there without hearing an Aberdeen accent. That is because we have the links and we send our experts over there, and those experts are making money for companies here by whom they are still employed. They are devising the technology that is being spent on and used in America and in other places across the world. In the North sea, we are operating in a super-mature field. This is one of the first fields in the world that is reaching that super-mature status. We have a proud history of exporting, getting incredibly good at what we do and teaching the rest of the world how to do it.

We also have a proud history of being respected around the world. Our oil and gas industry is respected throughout the world. If you say to somebody in an oil company in a different country, “This technology is used in the UKCS in the North sea”, it is automatically seen as a gold standard that is recognised around the world. In order for us to continue to generate tax revenues from this and to sustain jobs, we need to make sure that our companies have enough cash to innovate. Although the Government have been vaguely supportive in what they have done, they have not been supportive enough. Companies are still struggling to get venture capital and assistance from banks. I am aware that Ministers have spoken to banks, but it is still not enough. The confidence is still not there to the degree that we need it to be.

As I said, we are one of the first countries operating in this super-mature situation. What we really need now is a review of the taxes across the oil and gas industry. The system was devised many years ago in a totally different situation. It has had bits lumped on and bits lopped off, but it has never been looked at as a whole, and that is what we need to do now. I strongly urge the Minister to have a look at the entire tax regime for the oil and gas industry so that it can have a better future.