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25/01/15 00:01

Jobs Taskforce first meeting

Energy Minister: Taskforce is important step in sustaining and supporting energy jobs

The Taskforce established by the First Minister to support jobs in the energy sector will meet for the first time in Aberdeen next Wednesday.

The new Energy Jobs Taskforce, chaired by Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson, will report to the Scottish Energy Advisory Board and will focus on jobs across the entire industry, but with an initial emphasis on the oil and gas sector.

Lena Wilson, chair of the Energy Taskforce, said:

“We’ve made quick progress in forming this Taskforce which represents a strong and united public and private sector partnership that is committed to working together to support this vital industry throughout these challenging times. While current circumstances are difficult, we also need to remember that this is a resilient industry - one which has weathered the storm before and will do so again.

“We have an urgent and immediate task at hand to retain the jobs, skills and talent which is the bedrock of Scotland’s internationally competitive energy sector. The depth of knowledge and expertise this newly formed Taskforce offers will undoubtedly make an invaluable contribution to that task and help shape support to meet the current and future need for our energy sector."

Ahead of the group’s first meeting, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“I am acutely aware from the numerous meetings and discussions I have had with a range of companies, industry figures and unions, that the sector is currently facing extremely challenging times.

“This Taskforce, chaired by Lena Wilson, is an important step to ensure that energy jobs are sustained and supported through this difficult period, and is yet another demonstration from the Scottish Government that the industry has our full support.

“Since oil was discovered more than four decades ago, we have built a world class industrial cluster in the north sea and now export the skills and services required to support it around the world.

“There is a real risk that the current fall in the oil price will lead to the premature decommissioning of assets and the loss of highly skilled workers. Within this context, I think it is vital that the UK Government acts now.

“The North Sea has made an enormous contribution to the Scottish and UK economies over the last 40 years. It is now vital, in order to prolong the life of the industry beyond 2050 and maximise economic benefits, that the UK Government maintains the momentum for fiscal and regulatory change in the oil and gas sector.

“Chief among the action required is an immediate reversal of the 2011 hike in the Supplementary Charge and I made it clear that it is not sufficient for this change to wait until the March budget as Alistair Carmichael suggested last week.

“Last year, the UK Government announced a 2 per cent reduction of the Supplementary Charge rate – this reduction doesn’t go far enough. In boardrooms worldwide, oil companies are now making decisions which will impact on jobs in Scotland. Investors need a strong signal that the North Sea is open for business and that the UK Government understand the needs of the industry – and they need that signal now.”

Notes to editors

The Taskforce will be chaired by Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson and will report to the Scottish Energy Advisory Board, which will continue to be co-chaired by the First Minister and Professor Jim McDonald.

The Scottish Government continues to support the oil and gas industry. In 2013/14, funding from Scottish Enterprise to the oil and gas sector was £15.1million. The Scottish Government has continued to ring-fence 500 Modern Apprenticeships for the energy sector in each year of the current parliament.

Further details of the Aberdeen Cabinet will be announced in due course.