The Scottish Government’s focus is absolutely on what we can do to support the industry and the work force, which is facing uncertainty at what is a worrying time. We continue to do all that we can within devolved powers to help the sector. Last year, I set up the energy jobs task force, which has already helped to support more than 2,500 individuals and 100 employers through the current downturn, and will continue to support the industry to improve collaboration, co-operation and innovation.
I thank the First Minister for that response. It has been more than six months since the last “Oil and Gas Analytical Bulletin” was slipped out on the final day of term. In the intervening period, the oil price has dropped to $27 a barrel and is 70 per cent lower today than it was 18 months ago. Industry experts are predicting that it will drop further to $20 a barrel. There have been 65,000 jobs lost already and more are anticipated to be lost. We cannot afford to lose those skills for the future. What action will the First Minister take to protect those jobs? When will she publish a revised bulletin so that we can consider the impact on jobs and the economy?
We will continue to do all that we can within our responsibilities to support the industry and the jobs that depend on it. For example, the Scottish Cabinet will hold a special session on Tuesday next week that will be attended by Lena Wilson, who is the chair of the oil and gas task force. It will look at what the task force has already done and what more it can do to support those in the industry.
I wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday to urge him to agree with me that we should accelerate the finalisation of a city deal for Aberdeen, funded jointly by the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments, so that we can help Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council to invest in the infrastructure that the city needs. We will continue to take all the action that we can take. Of course, we will also continue to call on the UK Government to make sure that there is an appropriate fiscal regime for the North Sea.
I noted the comments that BP made when it announced the regrettable job losses last week that it has confidence in its long-term future in the North Sea. I also noted the comments of Oil and Gas UK about the future of the sector if we do the right things now. We are determined to do the right things now and we call on the UK Government to do likewise.
The First Minister will be aware that the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee published a report on Monday that says that the oil and gas sector could have a sustainable future with the correct support. Does the First Minister agree that vocal campaigns for the divestment of pension funds and others from the oil and gas industry are unhelpful, potentially damaging and might, if they are followed, lead to more job losses?
I agree that anything that undermines the industry at this time is unhelpful. I am also aware of the report that Murdo Fraser refers to; it is helpful and is one of the many things that the Cabinet will discuss as we consider how we will continue to give the industry the support that it needs at this time.