Oil and Gas Industry — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:30 am on 9 October 2018.

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Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment) 11:30, 9 October 2018

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point; it is absolutely essential that we remain in the customs union. Of course, I will come on to the importance of frictionless trade and the supply of labour later in my speech; indeed, I hope that everybody will speak about that.

The second choice that the UK Government must make is to recognise the £350 billion contribution to the Treasury that the sector has made over the past 50 years and provide the political certainty and financial support it needs now, or risk undermining North sea oil and gas by once again using it as a cash cow, this time to pay for Brexit Britain.

With sales up by 18.2% between 2016-17 and 2017-18 and the North sea holding up to 20 billion barrels of oil, the sector is in very strong health. Recent industry announcements, such as BP’s successful discoveries in the Capercaillie and Achmelvich wells, Nexen’s phase II development of the Buzzard field, and the Norwegian oil and gas giant Equinor’s deal to buy Rosebank’s share of the oil reserves to the west of Shetland, demonstrate the enormous investment potential that the United Kingdom continental shelf still holds.

The sector supports 283,000 jobs across the UK. In the town of Grangemouth, which is in my neighbouring constituency of Linlithgow and East Falkirk, INEOS alone employs 1,300 people, including seven new apprentices, who started training in 2017. Those figures somewhat contradict the predictions we hear about the sector’s constant decline. Healthy investment is continuing.