SNP receive ‘assurances’ from Government over North Sea loan scheme

Keith Brown said it was an important step forward. Picture: Scottish Government
Keith Brown said it was an important step forward. Picture: Scottish Government
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Economy secretary Keith Brown has received the “necessary assurances” from the UK Government that rapid progress will be made on a loan guarantee scheme for the oil and gas industry.

The commitment, from Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands, is an “important step forward” in helping the struggling sector, Mr Brown said.

The Holyrood minister had pressed the UK Government on the plans, unveiled in last year’s Budget, to use the UK Guarantees Scheme for oil and gas infrastructure to help secure investment in the North Sea.

Mr Brown said he had secured the commitment from Mr Hands that work on this would “progress at speed”, at recent talks with the UK Government minister. The economy secretary has now written to Holyrood’s economy committee to update it, as well as key industry figures.

Mr Brown said: “Despite repeated requests from the industry and the Scottish Government, there has been little progress on this issue so far.

“That is why I am pleased to have received the necessary assurances from Mr Hands that work on loan guarantees to support investment in offshore infrastructure – which are essential for the industry to secure funding at this moment in time – will now proceed with speed.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Chief Secretary and the Scottish Government Economy Secretary held a cordial meeting on 30 June.

“The Chief Secretary made it clear that the UK government is ready to consider loan proposals for infrastructure but only those that are commercially credible, financially sustainable and will help secure new investment to maximise oil and gas recovery.

“The Chief Secretary was unable to give details about specific projects at this stage, due to commercial confidentiality.

“This government is ensuring that the broad shoulders of the UK are 100 per cent behind our oil and gas industry and the thousands of workers and families it supports.

“In the last two Budgets, the government has announced radical packages of tax measures worth £2.3bn to ensure the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) remains an attractive destination for investment.

“No other government has made fiscal changes as extensive in response to falling oil prices.”