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Politics: Oil and gas sector expertise will be needed as industry transitions

By David Duguid

The recent news from Buckingham Palace of King Charles’ cancer diagnosis has touched us all.

While we remain concerned, the encouraging update on His Majesty's health and his stated intention to return to full duties is a reminder to us all of the The King’s commitment to public service.

The news also highlights the importance of early diagnosis in helping ensure a more effective treatment – a key message in a range of cancer-related events I attended in the House of Commons in recent weeks around World Cancer Day.

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I was pleased to have had the opportunity to express the thoughts and best wishes for His Majesty on behalf of the people of Banff and Buchan, last week on the floor of the House of Commons.

The north-east of Scotland is already playing a key role in the energy transition, having been a centre of excellence for offshore oil and gas, developing the skills, technology, supply chains and reputation that absolutely will be required to help progress on that energy transition journey.

I was delighted to join Scottish Conservatives MSPs, councillors, and other local elected representatives recently at the Energy Transition Zone offices in Aberdeen to hear in more detail how this fantastic legacy is helping with that delivery.

The oil and gas sector's enduring expertise and innovation will remain crucial as we manoeuvre through a managed decline in hydrocarbon production while we continue to build our capacity for renewable and decarbonised energy.

However, the Labour party’s proposal for what they call a "proper" windfall tax on these companies puts not only jobs at risk in the immediate future but also the very infrastructure and talent that will be required to make the energy transition a success.

MP David Duguid said the oil and gas sector's enduring expertise and innovation will remain crucial as the industry changes.
MP David Duguid said the oil and gas sector's enduring expertise and innovation will remain crucial as the industry changes.

Labour’s plans to increase the already excessive Energy Profit Levy ("windfall tax") from 35 per cent to 39 per cent (on top of the existing 40 per cent corporation tax which is already twice as much as most British companies pay) also comes with a complete removal of investment allowances.

This will only serve to discourage investment, not just in oil and gas but also in the wider energy sector.

Dave Whitehouse, CEO of Offshore Energies UK has said: “With no new investment, 42,000 jobs will go”, and added that Labour, “either can’t do the maths or haven’t considered the alarming jobs impact.”

This adds further to Labour’s economic illiteracy when it comes to the energy sector, following their humiliating climb down from their £28 billion pledge for annual green investment – something that was pointed out to them from the start, could not be paid for without massive increases in borrowing or increasing taxes.

I was very interested to hear how First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf was going to address the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) conference last week.

Would he announce a return of the £61 million of supposedly "ring-fenced" funding to the agriculture budget, or perhaps give farmers future funding details they have been waiting on for almost eight years?

Sadly, but not surprisingly, he did neither.

Of the £61 million, Rural Affairs Secretary MSP Mairi Gougeon MSP, who was also at the conference, said that it "will" be returned – but couldn’t provide a date.

With the SNP’s legacy of failed promises on dual carriageways, ferries and 100 per cent superfast broadband (to name but a few), who knows when, or even if, that will be?

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