A UK Government response to a Scottish Affairs Committee report calling for a sector deal for the oil and gas industry sidesteps the issue, according to the committee’s SNP chair.

Pete Wishart has now written to Energy Minister Claire Perry, calling for more clarity on government support for the sector.

The committee’s main recommendation was for an ambitious sector deal to ensure Scotland’s energy industry can navigate future challenges and continue to prosper.

However, the Government’s only response was that its relationship with the sector was already “well-established”.

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Wishart said: “Though there are some positive noises from the Government, such as their enhanced funding for carbon capture and storage technologies and the recently announced centre of underwater engineering, we are disappointed by its reluctance to give a clear answer about whether it will implement an overarching sector deal that would truly transform the oil and gas industry in Scotland.

“A sector deal would provide the co-ordinated approach needed to support transition to a new clean energy industry.

“The last thing the industry needs now is continuing uncertainty, so I have written to the minister to press for more clarification on the Government’s stance on a sector deal.”

The deal recommended by the committee would also reflect government climate change targets by setting out a co-ordinated way for the sector to transition to green energy production.

However, the Government suggested that a phased approach to funding could be preferable to a formal deal.

Wishart said he wanted to know how it would ensure a phased approach did not lead to areas of less immediate economic benefit to the sector – such as work on energy transition and carbon capture – being neglected in favour of the areas of the deal that promised a more immediate economic return.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the sector and he called on Government and industry to take a visibly more proactive approach to limiting its carbon footprint.

The Government has responded positively to recommendations for increased support for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technologies. And it is supporting a new underwater engineering centre at Aberdeen – previously suggested by the committee – to bring together industry and academia from across the UK to develop new technologies to help the move towards a low-carbon economy.

Wishart added: “Though the oil and gas industry will have a challenging future, these new circumstances could bring significant opportunities and help the Government meet the UK’s climate change targets. If the economic potential of decommissioning and cleaner energies is to be harnessed, the Government must act now by providing strategic vision, and support for the industry.”