Scotland politics

David Cameron to set out North Sea 'help' plan

David Cameron at PMQs Image copyright PA

The prime minister has announced that he will go to Aberdeen on Thursday to set out what more can be done to help the oil and gas industry.

David Cameron told MPs that the industry was facing significant problems, and said his government was determined to help.

A special Scottish government cabinet meeting was held on Tuesday to discuss the state of the industry.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a cut in North Sea taxes.

Mr Cameron told the House of Commons that he was "determined we build a bridge to the future for all those involved in the North Sea".

He added: "The oil price decline is the longest in 20 years and nearly the steepest and this causes real difficulties for the North Sea and we can see the effects in the east of England, across Scotland - particularly in Aberdeen - and in other parts of our country too.

"We discussed this at cabinet yesterday. I'm determined we build a bridge to the future for all those involved in the North Sea.

"We're going to help the sector export its world-class expertise. We're going to help the economies diversify. We've announced £1.3bn of support last year for the North Sea. We're implementing the Wood review.

"I'll be going to Aberdeen tomorrow where we'll be saying more about what we can do to help this vital industry at this vital time."

The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil has fallen from more than $100 in January 2014 to less than $30 in January of this year.

Following its meeting on Tuesday, the Scottish government said it was to ask Chancellor George Osborne to ease the "tax burden" on the North Sea oil industry in his March budget.

Ministers also agreed that they would lobby to "remove barriers to exploration" and back reskilling.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, will also be in Aberdeen on Thursday as part of a drive to forge a new trading partnership between Aberdeen and the Mozambique town of Pemba.

'Huge expertise'

Mr Mundell is to visit Pemba next month. The area is said to have "huge reserves of offshore natural gas", and already has a formal memorandum of understanding with Aberdeen.

The minister said: "Mozambique can learn a huge amount from Aberdeen's oil and gas hub model, and its associated experience and expertise.

"At the same time, Scottish companies will be able to bid for new work and contracts out in Mozambique. Our oil and gas sector has huge expertise to share.

"This deal will also bring fantastic opportunities for British companies working in the Scottish oil and gas sector to win new contracts supporting Pemba's growing offshore industry."

The Pemba initiative has been driven by Aberdeen City Council.