New body aimed at securing future of oil and gas

A NEW flagship body aimed at securing the long-term future of the oil and gas industry is to be created in Aberdeen, the UK government has announced.

Danny Alexander will say the industry is stronger in the UK. Picture: Greg Macvean
Danny Alexander will say the industry is stronger in the UK. Picture: Greg Macvean

Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander will reveal today that the Oil and Gas Authority is being set up to encourage economic production. He will warn in a speech to the Oil and Gas UK conference in Aberdeen that the industry’s future is safest in the UK.

It follows a speech by First Minister Alex Salmond at the conference yesterday in which he said the industry would have a “strong and stable future” in an independent Scotland.

The new body is being established after a review carried out by oil and gas magnate Sir Ian Wood calling for an independent agency to be set up to maximise the economic impact by increasing collaboration across the industry.

“It is my view that it should be located at the heart of the UK’s oil and gas industry,” he will tell the conference today.

“So I can tell you today that it will be based right here – in Aberdeen.”

The Oil and Gas Authority will be designed to encourage economic production in the UK and provide long-term support for the industry.

Mr Alexander will describe the North Sea oil and gas sector as being the “jewel in the crown of British industry”.

He will also use his speech to argue that the sector’s future will be more secure if Scotland votes to stay part of the UK.

“As an economy, as an industry, there is a UK dividend from staying united,” he will say.

“As a United Kingdom we ensure a brighter future for you and your industry.”

Concerns about a Yes vote have been raised by a string of Scottish businesses in recent months, including Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, Alliance Trust and Aggreko.

The heads of major oil companies Shell and BP have also stated they would like to see Scotland remain in the UK.

But Mr Salmond said yesterday: “The vast bulk of companies weren’t saying that. Of course you had one or two individuals saying it. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You don’t need a crystal ball, you can read the books.

“[George] Osborne said inward investment would be put off and now we have record inward investment.

“The experience of the oil industry is interesting too because we have had record investment in the oil industry in recent years – so this sector is living proof of the lies and scaremongering of George Osborne.

He added: “It’s 50 years since the first exploration licences were released in the North Sea in 1964.

“This industry will last for another 50 years, if not more, and therefore to maximise 
the benefits for the industry 
and the people, let’s have 
a different style of