Dennis Robertson apologises for ‘no North Sea jobs crisis’ comment
A Nationalist MSP has apologised after coming under fire for saying there is no jobs “crisis” in the North Sea, as oil plummeted to its lowest price in 11 years.
The SNP’s Dennis Robertson said he was sorry for any “misunderstanding” after he remarked “there is no crisis” when the issue of North Sea jobs was raised during a Holyrood debate on growing Scotland’s economy.
Mr Robertson, the MSP for Aberdeenshire West, said the workforce in the sector was “booming” and “more oil than ever before” had been extracted.
His comments came after trade body Oil & Gas UK warned that times remained tough for the industry and its workers, with more job losses expected in the next few months on top of 65,000 jobs stripped from Britain’s offshore oil sector last year.
Opposition MSPs accused Mr Robertson of ‘’breath-taking complacency’’ over the claim he made when he made when challenging the Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale after she described the situation as a crisis.
The row came as the price of Brent crude oil sank by 4.6% to $34.76 a barrel, surpassing its late December fall and taking it to its lowest level since 1 July 2004.
Mr Robertson has now said it was important to “recognise the continued potential of the North Sea”, but stated that he “could have expressed myself better”.
In a statement posted on his website, Mr Robertson said: “I am a strong supporter of the oil and gas industry and those working in it, particularly in my constituency.
“In the remarks I made yesterday I accept that I could have expressed myself better when commenting on the industry’s current position and I apologise for any misunderstanding.
“The sector faces clear and substantial challenges and as politicians it is our job to work with the industry through these difficult times.”
Mr Robertson continued: “However, despite current challenges, I believe we must also recognise the continued potential of the North Sea as highlighted by Oil and Gas UK earlier this week when they reported on the first increase in production in 15 years.
“I am well aware of how challenging current conditions are for those working in the oil and gas industry, and have heard directly from many of my constituents how they have been affected over the past year.”
Mr Robertson said he would seek meetings with trade unions and Oil and Gas UK to discuss the issue in the coming weeks.
He added: “I find it disappointing to hear politicians spread negativity around the industry when all parties should be working together to support it.”