TUESDAY’S news that a major high-pressure, high-temperature gas discovery has been made east of Aberdeen will have cheered oil company Total’s shareholders, China, and perhaps even the UK Government. Though by the way successive governments have under-taxed the oil giants and squandered the revenue – who knows what they’ll think of this latest discovery? Maybe they think that wealth is better off in the hands of big business and the Chinese state and will trickle down to UK citizens.

READ MORE: 'Significant' new gas discovery made in North Sea

The rest of us? Those of us concerned that a sixth mass extinction on earth is being driven – this time by humankind – in the form of global warming largely as a result of burning hydrocarbon fuels? We’re less likely to be overjoyed. Total’s offshore workforce will remain in their existing dilemma. They may feel that their jobs are safer. But their lives? Maybe not so much.

There has been little reaction from Total or any other offshore workers since 238 men came “perilously close to disaster” in March 2012 when Total presided over a blowout that saw thousands of cubic meters of flammable gas spew onto the Elgin and Rowan Viking installations.

READ MORE: North Sea oil find is biggest in more than a decade

All the while a naked flame burnt in the flare stack because Total, against their own rules, kept production flowing and largely failed to risk-assess what they were doing while they made a complete dog’s breakfast of the well kill. And the HSE looked on unable to intervene.

It’s not even as though this was a one-off. The HSE’s energy director, Chris Flint, is on record saying that there have been several other (at least a dozen since Elgin) major hydrocarbon releases that have come perilously close to disaster, releases which have “greater potential to lead to fires, explosions and multiple losses of life”.

This startling admission has not been followed up by one word of self-criticism by the agency that was brought onto the North Sea after Piper Alpha as safety regulator, and was supposed to have been Lord Cullen’s greatest achievement.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has diligently pursued successive ministers of state in an attempt to identify the lessons that are claimed have been learnt and brought to the attention of the North Sea workforce.

Having received no assurance from the minister that this bottom-line safety precaution has actually been taken by Total or the HSE, Alison Thewliss is now prepared to attend a meeting with HSE, offered by the minister, where strong representation will be made to HSE to document the mistakes made and disseminate the lessons throughout the industry. In short, to forewarn and forearm the workforce who face disaster when safety regularly fails.

Neil Rothnie

NATIONAL readers will be worried to hear that SNP MPs have fallen in line with Trump’s USA and the austerity-wielding EU leaders when they attack the Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and endorse another more to their liking.

It is important to note an obvious difference with Nicaragua, which is a very poor nation, depending on agriculture, with a population similar to ours. Venezuela is one of the biggest oil-exporting countries in the world and the USA just happens to be the biggest customer.

READ MORE: David Pratt: Why the military holds the key to Venezuela's crisis

So readers would not be unreasonable suspecting that concern for more than 30 million Venezuelan people is not the first concern of either their local  millionaires or USA big business interests.

It is valid to be both critical of the Venezuelan regime and opposed to the USA interfering directly and indirectly.

Norman Lockhart