Oil and Gas Sector

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 12:00 am, 14th March 2017

What steps his Department is taking to support the oil and gas sector.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The oil and gas sector is important for the UK’s economy, for energy security and for jobs. That is why the Government have established the Oil and Gas Authority as a strong, independent regulator over the past two years, providing a £2.3 billion package of support to encourage investment and exploration in the UK. In the spring Budget last week, the Chancellor announced that the Government will consider how tax could be used to assist sales of late-life oil and gas assets in the North sea, helping to keep them productive for longer.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Do this Government stand by or reject comments, which are in contrast to industry voices, made by the Scottish Conservatives’ energy spokesman, Alexander Burnett MSP, that the oil and gas industry does not need any help and that

“People in Aberdeen are not asking for more at the moment”?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I am unsure whether I entirely caught the hon. Gentleman’s remarks, but the Government have been clear in their support not just for the UK continental shelf and the companies on it, but for Aberdeen through the £250 million city deal.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Is my hon. Friend aware that at this very moment crude is trading at just $48.31? Has he read the OECD report which states that and many other structural factors mean that an independent Scotland would have a worse debt to population ratio than even Greece?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I am sure that my hon. Friend will understand that I will not comment on that specific economic issue. However, I admire his awareness of the oil spot price. The Government have managed to engineer a significant fall in oil and gas supply costs on the continental shelf—[Interruption.]

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

Order. A cerebral Minister is at the box responding to a pertinent inquiry, and Philip Boswell is behaving in a mildly boorish fashion—very uncharacteristically. I am sure that this is an exceptional case.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I am not sure that anyone can recover from the attribution of being “cerebral.”

The way in which the Oil and Gas Authority has lowered costs on the UKCS is testimony to how competitive our economy can be in oil and gas, even when oil prices are falling.