Scotland’s biggest offshore union is calling on MSPs to back a Holyrood motion calling for public investment in the oil and gas industry.
Unite is to ask every MSP to support a motion by North East Scotland Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, calling on the Scottish Government to consider using its new borrowing powers to buy a stake in offshore infrastructure – like new pipelines or platforms.
The union says public stakes from both the Scottish and UK Governments could encourage investment from energy companies, and create returns for the public purse in the future.
“There is no doubt that the oil and gas sector is going through a difficult time,” said Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell. “Our members are the people who are worst affected by the crisis – with attacks on their working conditions and as many as 120,000 jobs forecast to be lost by the end of this year.
“Scotland’s oil and gas sector is vital to the economy of the country. The Scottish Government can’t do everything to help us out of these difficulties, but it should be leading by example.
“This motion calls on the Scottish Government to start discussions with the UK Government, industry and trade unions to create a plan for co-investment that will support jobs, increase confidence and create returns to the public purse,” Campbell added.
“We hope every MSP will sign the motion. Our members in the sector expect nothing less.”
Lewis Macdonald MSP said, “Scottish Labour supports the idea of public stakes in the oil and gas industry We have called for the creation of a new public body, UK Offshore Investment Limited (UK OIL), to identify areas for temporary public investment.
“UK OIL would work with the Oil and Gas Authority to identify strategic assets that are potentially profitable. That would help to prevent platforms and pipelines being lost earlier than planned, and potentially help fund new ones for the future.
“We urgently need imaginative thinking like this now – otherwise the oil and gas sector could continue to decline due to lack of investment,” Macdonald warned.
Unite says that recent research published by the Oil & Gas Authority shows that there is potential for a new lease of life for the offshore industry in Scotland.
The Authority estimated that there was an equivalent of more than 3bn barrels of oil untapped underneath the UK continental shelf, and described it as a ‘very significant opportunity’.