The Scottish Government has been urged to stop ‘sitting on the fence’ over the controversial Cambo oil field near Shetland.
The Scottish Conservatives launched a debate on the future of North Sea oil and gas on Wednesday, in an attempt to drive a wedge between the new SNP-Green government.
Their motion – to support new oil and gas projects including at Cambo – was not backed by the SNP, leading the Tories to accuse them of having “turned its back on the north-east”.
‘Huge loss of jobs’
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative net zero spokesman, said the SNP-Green Government’s “one dimensional view on our path to net zero will force Scotland to import more energy from abroad, costing the public more and increasing emissions”.
Writing in The Press & Journal, Sir Ian Wood said the country cannot “simply turn off the oil and gas industry and expect the renewables industry to instantaneously take up the slack”.
He added that low carbon jobs “simply aren’t available at scale just now” but said that with the “right investment they will be in the future”.
The oil and gas tycoon warned that “cutting back on oil and gas will just result in a huge loss of jobs and real damage to our balance of payments”.
The SNP and Greens admitted in their own co-operation agreement that they “do not entirely agree” on the role of the oil and gas sector.
The Greens have pledged to “phase out” oil and gas in the North Sea and are opposed to the Cambo oil field near Shetland.
Nicola Sturgeon revealed last month she thinks the UK Government should “reassess” proposed schemes such as the controversial Cambo development.
This was seen as early evidence of the influence of the Greens on her government and has sparked concern over jobs in the sector.
Mr Kerr accused the Scottish Government of failing to provide any details around the £500m just transition fund announced last month for the north-east and Moray.
He added there is still “significant, ongoing demand” for oil and gas with the country “not yet at a stage where renewables can entirely supply the electricity Britain needs”.
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, told MSPs the oil and gas industry has a “vital role to play in Scotland’s energy future”.
He added the “infrastructure, skills and expertise” of the sector will help Scotland become a “world leader in emerging technologies”.
However, the SNP politician said the just transition has to be “managed in a way that ensures oil and gas developments are compatible with being a net zero society by 2045”.
But he stopped short of commenting directly on the proposed development of the Cambo oil field.
‘Cambo must not go ahead’
Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens all stressed their opposition to the controversial development, which they believe is at odds with Scotland’s journey to net zero.
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman for net zero, told MSPs Cambo “must not go ahead”.
However, she said it was on parliamentarians to guarantee that the transition delivers “justice for workers” through a “managed and worker-led transition”.
She added: “Without immediate action to reduce emissions, the consequences will include rising sea levels, the extinction of vulnerable species, and a higher frequency of natural disasters.
“Pushing ahead with Cambo would be a betrayal of future generations.”