Oil and Gas Licences

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 22 February 2024.

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Photo of Douglas Lumsden Douglas Lumsden Conservative

5. To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Government still has a policy of a presumption against any new oil and gas licences. (S6F-02845)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Oil and gas continue to play an important part in Scotland’s energy transition. Our focus is on meeting our energy security needs, reducing emissions in line with our climate goals and ensuring a just transition for the workforce as North Sea oil and gas resources inevitably decline.

As part of that approach, our draft energy strategy and our just transition plan consulted on a presumption against the licensing of new exploration for oil and gas. We have never proposed having no new licensing at all, but, unlike the Conservatives, we are not ignoring the scale of the climate crisis befalling our planet. [

Interruption

.]

The First Minister:

We will work with the energy industry to accelerate the transition to net zero where we can.

Photo of Douglas Lumsden Douglas Lumsden Conservative

The First Minister makes one trip up to Aberdeen and then masquerades as the saviour of the oil and gas industry. He must think that the people of the north-east are buttoned up the back. He is against Cambo and Rosebank, and his Government still has a presumption against any new oil and gas licences. Will the First Minister tell members why he is in favour of importing more oil and gas and stopping new investment, which, as he knows, means throwing away thousands of livelihoods on the scrap heap?

The First Minister:

If Douglas Lumsden knew what he was talking about, he would know that the vast majority of the oil that is extracted from the North Sea gets exported overseas. What is clear to me, to the people of Scotland and to the people of the north-east is that Westminster is not working for Scotland. For decades, the Conservatives have been telling the people of Scotland that Scotland’s oil is running out. Now, all of a sudden, they are pretending that it is going to last forever. [

Interruption

.]

The Presiding Officer:

Let us hear the First Minister.

The First Minister:

Successive United Kingdom Governments, Tory and Labour, have used the north-east as a cash cow, squandering £400 billion in today’s prices of oil and gas revenue. Whether it is the Conservatives or Labour, whose policies could end up throwing 100,000 workers on the scrap heap, Westminster cannot be trusted with Scotland’s natural resources. It is high time that Scotland’s energy was in Scotland’s hands, so that we can ensure cheaper bills, unleash the economic potential of the green revolution and, of course, help tackle the climate crisis.

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I welcome the First Minister’s visit to Aberdeen this week and the engagement that he has had with the oil and gas sector. Will that engagement with the oil and gas sector continue—[

Laughter

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The Presiding Officer:

Let us hear Mr Stewart.

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I n particular, will engagement continue regarding retaining and increasing the vital investment that is needed to deliver a just transition, following the deeply concerning warnings that Labour’s aggressive plans for the North Sea will put 100,000 jobs at risk? That is really serious for my constituents in Aberdeen, the north-east and beyond.

The First Minister:

Many of those in the north-east of Scotland will just have seen Kevin Stewart rightly standing up for his constituents, using not Scottish Government figures but industry figures that say that Labour’s plans could risk up to 100,000 jobs, and they will have heard Labour laughing—laughing at Kevin Stewart, laughing at the people of Aberdeen and laughing at our oil and gas workers, who, of course, have done an incredible job for Scotland over decades and continue to do an excellent job for Scotland.

Let me reiterate what I have already said in previous exchanges, which is that we in the Scottish National Party support a windfall tax—of that, there is no doubt. What we do not support is aggressive plans by Labour not just to increase that windfall tax but to raid the north-east so that it can pay for new nuclear power plants in England. That is unfair and not acceptable.

We believe that, as we accelerate the transition to net zero, the oil and gas workers, who are incredibly skilled and have incredible expertise, will be absolutely vital to that just transition. I can promise them that, as long as the SNP is in government, we will protect them from the damaging plans of Keir Starmer and Labour, which would end up seeing them thrown on the scrap heap.