Gov­ern­ment ‘should take stake in oil and gas as­sets’

Labour lead­er­ship hope­ful says gov­ern­ment should buy stakes

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEN­NIFER MCKIERNAN

The gov­ern­ment must take a stake in strate­gic North Sea oil and gas as­sets, says Scot­tish Labour lead­er­ship con­tender Anas Sar­war.

He ar­gued that this would al­low pro­duc­tion to con­tinue and pre­vent fur­ther job losses.

Scot­tish Labour lead­er­ship con­tender Anas Sar­war has said the gov­ern­ment must take a stake in strate­gic North Sea oil and gas as­sets.

He ar­gued this would al­low pro­duc­tion to con­tinue and pre­vent fur­ther job losses.

Speak­ing ahead of a hus­tings in Aberdeen to­day, Mr Sar­war said he sup­ported the cre­ation of a new UK oil pub­lic body to iden­tify which as­sets should be sup­ported with pub­lic in­vest­ment.

Tens of thou­sands of jobs have been lost in the oil and gas sec­tor fol­low­ing the oil price crash, with rev­enues for the UK Gov­ern­ment down to just a frac­tion of what they once were – and far be­low SNP pre­dic­tions, prior to the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in 2014.

Mr Sar­war said: “Our North Sea oil and gas in­dus­try is a vi­tal part of Scot­land’s econ­omy, but the chal­lenges the sec­tor face have been ig­nored by the Tories and the SNP.

“For the SNP, the cri­sis has caused con­sid­er­able em­bar­rass­ment, leav­ing its in­de­pen­dence blue­print in chaos.

“That is no ex­cuse, how- ever, to aban­don the work­force.”

He in­sisted state in­ter­ven­tion should be con­sid­ered if strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture such as hub plat­forms and pipeline net­works were in dan­ger of pre­ma­ture de­com­mis­sion­ing. And he added it should also ap­ply if there were no al­ter­na­tive sources of cap­i­tal to in­vest in the as­set and re­turn it to prof­itabil­ity.

He con­firmed that in­vest­ments would be of a lim­ited du­ra­tion, un­til the oil price re­cov­ered suf­fi­ciently for the Trea­sury to make a re­turn for the tax­payer.

He added: “As Scot­tish Labour leader, I would fight for the off­shore oil and gas

“Chal­lenges the sec­tor face have been ig­nored by the Tories and the SNP”

in­dus­try, with a strat­egy fo­cused on pro­tect­ing the vi­tal North Sea as­sets, and the jobs and skills that de­pend on them.

“And, if the Tories won’t do it, I want the next UK Labour gov­ern­ment to take a strate­gic stake in the North Sea to al­low pro­duc­tion to con­tinue and pre­vent fur­ther job losses.”

Ri­val lead­er­ship can­di­date Richard Leonard did not re­spond when asked to com­ment.

CON­TENDER: Anas Sar­war is in the run­ning for the Scot­tish Labour lead­er­ship con­test and is due to speak in Aberdeen to­day

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