Future of the Oil and Gas Industry — [Mr Charles Walker in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:56 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 2:56 pm, 14th March 2019

I am grateful to you once again, Mr Walker. I thank everyone who has contributed to a very fine debate, which has touched on and explored most of the issues in the report. It is a report that all the Committee are proud of, and I am glad to see so many Committee members here, contributing and making their own particular points.

In particular, I am impressed with Hugh Gaffney, who reminded us of very real trade union-related issues that we touched on in the report. We took evidence from the trade unions, as he will remember from the visit to Aberdeen. We heard about his personal tragedy—something that was taken very seriously. Safety at work remains a live issue throughout the industry.

I am grateful to the Minister for the update on issues to do with the sector deal. I recognise that we are making solid progress on the global hub for decommissioning, but we need to hear a bit more about the other ambitions we mentioned—things that we believe should be included in the sector deal—particularly as regards transformational technology and underwater innovations.

We have a real opportunity to be world beaters here, and we cannot lose it, because it is so important to the sector. The skills that have been acquired over the decades of production in Aberdeen and the north-east must be utilised to full effect, and we must ensure that the investment follows that; £178 million of investment between Government and industry could return something in the region of £110 billion for the whole UK, but primarily for Scotland and the north-east. We must ensure that we get that investment and that support from Government.

I am grateful to Peter Aldous for reminding us again that this is a UK-wide industry, with a footprint in practically every nation of the UK and every region. That is something we recognise. I am also grateful to my hon. Friend Douglas Chapman for reminding us about the history of all this; I know this has been a consensual report and we have all ensured that we can agree on it, but in Scotland we still have issues about not being able to secure the benefits, and we look across the North sea at what Norway has secured and acquired. We will leave that to one side just now, but it is worthwhile our being reminded of that as we go forward, and seeing what we can do to ensure that we continue to see the fruits and benefits of the North sea.

The key point, which I think everyone touched on, is ensuring a just transition from a hydrocarbon past to a low-carbon future, and that the investment, skills and expertise carry on into the next stage. I do not like talking of doing away with what we have, or a lack of production. A new adventure is in store for the North sea, and that will include all the things in this report—transformational technology, underwater innovation and decommissioning.

We have a great future, if we are able to ensure that all the wonderful skills that have been acquired can be properly utilised in the next stage of the story of the North sea. I look forward to seeing that chapter written with the support of both Governments, and of Members of Parliament right across this House.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered the Sixth Report of the Scottish Affairs Committee, The future of the oil and gas industry, HC 996.