The beleaguered North Sea energy sector received a welcome boost today after official figures revealed oil and gas production in Scotland rose by 2.9 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The Oil and Gas Production Statistics 2016-17 also revealed approximate sales value increased by 15.2 per cent. Production north of the border accounted for 82 per cent of the UK total, an increase of two per cent.
The Scottish Government said the rise was a sign of confidence returning to the sector, which has been rocked in recent years by a global downturn in the price of oil, with an estimated 120,000 jobs lost across the UK industry.
Oil prices have recovered by 80 per cent since hitting lows of $28 a barrel in January 2016, but a price of around $50 a barrel remains less than half than what it did in 2014.
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the figures proved the oil and gas industry in Scotland had a “bright future”.
He added: “It is encouraging to see this continued increase in production which has risen by a total of 25 per cent over the last two years. These figures show that confidence is continuing to return to the sector after a number of challenging years.
“Capital investment on oil and gas fields in Scottish waters was £8 billion in financial year 2016-17 and the approximate sales value of oil and gas produced in Scotland was estimated to be £17.5 billion, which is a rise of 15.2 per cent on last year.
“I do recognise that this remains a difficult time for the industry and its workforce, and the Programme for Government launched last week clearly outlines that even in the context of our low carbon transition harnessing the resources of the North Sea will be vital to the Scottish economy for decades to come.
“The Energy Jobs Taskforce has delivered an exceptional range of support for industry and individuals in the sector and the Oil & Gas Industry Liaison Group will now take forward the actions identified by the taskforce, ensuring Scotland’s oil and gas sector has a long-term future.
“The Scottish Government will continue to do everything within our powers to support the industry and its workforce, while calling on the UK Government to improve the fiscal and regulatory regime to encourage on-going investment to support jobs and export led growth.”
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson, said the Scottish Government must increase its support for the sector.
The MSP added: “It is welcome that these figures show small signs of recovery in the oil and gas industry, but the SNP’s response to the crisis has been half-hearted at best.
“Thousands of people have lost their jobs, but the SNP has failed to properly respond because to do so would be to admit what everyone in Scotland now knows – the Nationalists’ case for independence was built on fantasy economics that would have left Scotland poorer.
“We must now guard against complacency and ensure both SNP and Tory governments redouble their support for the industry as it begins its recovery.”