DOUGLAS Ross has stood by a claim the UK Government’s controversial oil and gas bill will help energy security – despite warnings an analysis has exposed it as "false". 

The legislation, which would allow for an annual licensing regime for oil and gas exploration contracts, has sparked a backlash including within the Tories with former minister Chris Skidmore stepping down as an MP in protest.

Alok Sharma, the UK’s former business and energy secretary who was also president of the Cop26 Glasgow climate summit, has also said he will not be voting for Rishi Sunak’s bill.

The legislation was due have its second reading in the Commons on Monday, but this was pushed back following additional business including debate over Horizon Post Office scandal and the Gaza war.

READ MORE: New North Sea oil licences 'make no real difference' to energy costs

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Ross said he intended to support the legislation and denied this meant he was “on the wrong side of history”.

“It’s crucially about ensuring we have a supply of oil and gas that’s close to home as possible rather than importing that at higher cost to the environment in terms of CO2 levels and at greater cost,” he said.

“So I want to see us producing as much oil and gas as close to home as possible that supports jobs, supports the UK economy and helps us reduce our emissions because we are not importing oil and gas from elsewhere around the world.”

But Ross was challenged on this statement, with a report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit which found oil from new licences granted to North Sea producers and sent to UK refineries would account for less than 1% of the fuels used here in 2030.

Asked if he accepted this analysis, Ross replied: “There have been licences granted up to this point, we’re looking to the future and beyond 2030 as well, but it is part of a just transition …”

The Scottish Tory leader was also challenged on previously asserting that the oil and gas bill would reduce reliance on expensive foreign imports and protect energy security.

He responded: “Well it does, they are looking at 2030, I’m looking at the period towards 2030 and the period beyond 2030.

READ MORE: What does the Tories' 'raid' on North Sea oil and gas mean for Scotland?

“We’ve got to look at our energy security going forward and as I say, while the SNP and Labour want to abandon North Sea jobs and the oil and gas sector, the Scottish Conservatives are standing up for this sector and standing up for our energy security now and into the future.”

The Scottish Greens have said the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit report shows the bill is “predicated on nothing more than false claims and naked opportunism”.

Mark Ruskell, the party’s spokesperson for climate and energy, said: “Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other Tory MPs stood up and claimed that this was about protecting the UK’s energy independence and security in the face of war in Ukraine and now tensions his government are stoking in the Middle East.

“Yet the independent Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has exposed this as false. It will do nothing of the sort.

“Even his own MPs know it to be not just a lie, but an environmental outrage.

“One has quit already, and a growing number are telling him to reverse course.

“There is simply no justification for issuing new licences, let alone doing so on an annual basis.”