FORMER SNP minister Fergus Ewing has joined with ex-Tory minister Amber Rudd and others to call of increased support for the oil and gas sector. 

Ex-energy minister Ewing, joined others, including LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael in writing a letter to both the UK and Scottish Governments calling on extra support for the industry.

Other signatories of the letter were energy ministers Brian Wilson, who served in Tony Blair's government and Charles Hendry, a minister under David Cameron. 

Ewing recently described his party’s coalition partners the Scottish Greens as “somewhat extreme” in their views on the climate crisis.

The declaration was signed in Aberdeen on Monday and stressed the need for the industry to push for net zero.

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The UK Government has set a target of reaching net zero by 2050, while the Scottish Government hopes to do so by 2045.

The former home secretary was appointed earlier this year to a position on the board of Centrica – the owner of British Gas – which has interests in the oil and gas sector.

In signing the document, the group declares “our oil and gas sector developed since the 1970s, and its businesses, workforce and infrastructure (the re-purposing of which greatly facilitates a number of the carbon storage projects) are of world class and constitute a huge asset to these islands.”

It added: “The sector deserves the full support of all Governments in the UK as an essential contributor to the achievement of net zero targets.”

The declaration goes on to say that the skills in the oil and gas sector will be needed to aid the creation of cleaner energy, as well as pushing for an increase in carbon capture technology.

Along with the declaration, the five also pressed the UK and Scottish Governments to act.

“The Scottish Government in its forthcoming energy strategy support our oil and gas sector to provide a global lead to the process of decarbonisation of their operations, and recognise its continued success as an essential prerequisite of achieving net zero emission targets, for the reasons set out above,” they said.

“Thus, providing full support to the sector for its continued operations over the duration of the just transition in line with the North Sea Transition Deal, with emissions to be halved by 2030.”

They went on to urge the UK Government to “accelerate its efforts to promote carbon capture and storage”, while pressing all the UK’s administrations to work together “so that the complex regulatory landscape is capable of jointly and swiftly responding and enabling industry to deliver net-zero and, in particular, clean power to platforms and carbon capture storage”.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government said: “The Government has repeatedly said that energy security is our ultimate priority, including supporting the oil and gas sector and its transition.

“This is why the British Energy Security Strategy sets out how we will accelerate security of supply through cheap renewables, betting big on new nuclear and maximising domestic production of gas in the North Sea.

“Through our landmark North Sea Transition Deal we are backing the decarbonisation of the oil and gas industry while supporting tens of thousands of jobs across Scotland and the wider UK, ensuring high-skilled workers are not left behind.”

While a Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government’s position is clear that unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is not consistent with our climate obligations, a position supported by the UK and Scottish Government’s statutory advisers on climate change.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest reports show that the impacts of climate change are even worse than previously thought and that business as usual is not an option.

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“We are equally clear that the oil and gas sector plays an important role in our economy, and that a bright future lies ahead for a revitalised North Sea in supporting a net zero energy system.

“Our oil and gas infrastructure and highly skilled workforce have long been at the forefront of energy innovation.

“That is why we are committed to a just transition that supports those currently employed in oil and gas to capitalise on the employment opportunities of net zero energy.