THE UK Government’s transition plan for Scotland’s oil and gas industry in the North Sea has been branded a “sham” by campaigners.

A new report published by climate action group Uplift accused the UK of failing to have a “coherent” strategy to equitably transition workers working in fossil fuels to renewables.

The voluntary North Sea Transition Deal was reached by ministers and oil and gas bosses in 2021.

The deal was intended to see the UK Government and the oil and gas industry “work together to deliver the skills, innovation and new infrastructure required to meet stretching greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.”

It also aimed to “both safeguard and create new high-quality jobs” in preparation for a “net zero future”.

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However, Uplift say that it has so far failed to deliver as it puts the interests of companies above those of workers.

More than 200,000 jobs supported by the oil and gas sector have been lost in the past decade, according to the report.

While the number of direct jobs in the industry has fallen by 17% since 2013, jobs in the supply chain have roughly halved over the same period.

"The current North Sea transition plan is a sham,” said Tessa Khan, Uplift’s executive director.

“To even the casual observer, it is clear that the oil and gas industry is following a different path to the one they advertise.

“The majority of North Sea operators invest nothing in UK renewable energy, but nor are they investing in UK oil and gas production.

The National: Oil rig

"The last couple of years have seen the highest industry profits but the lowest level of industry investment in the basin in five decades, with profits instead going to shareholders and debt payments.

“It has been an error on the part of this government to put the industry, which is showing such a commercial disinterest in the UK’s transition to clean energy, in the driving seat .“There is now a chorus of voices calling for an urgent change in direction before we see a full blown crisis.

“The North Sea is an inexorably ageing basin with declining reserves that are now expensive to extract.

“Jobs supported by the industry have already halved in a decade, despite government support for oil and gas, and will only continue to fall.

“The next government needs to get everyone around the table – not just Westminster politicians and the oil and gas firms, but the Scottish government, trade unions, worker representatives and affected communities – to create a coherent, detailed and workable agreement for the next phase of the North Sea powering this country, that’s in everyone’s interests. That is how you ensure the transition is fair.”

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The report calls for a “New Deal for the North Sea” and encourages the UK to collaborate with the Scottish Government “to create an overarching strategic plan and development programme”.

It makes particular mention of how Aberdeen is faring as the oil and gas industry steadily declines.

“Once considered to be one of the most affluent regions of the UK outside London, Aberdeen has had a ‘disastrous decade’, experiencing an ongoing decline in its economy and people’s wellbeing, reflected in rising fuel poverty and emergency food bank use, coupled with a fall in house prices, levels of disposable income, healthy life expectancy and life satisfaction.

“These are all signs of government neglect in managing the transition, to Aberdeen’s detriment.”

The National: Loss of oil and gas jobs has had a major impact on AberdeenLoss of oil and gas jobs has had a major impact on Aberdeen

Caroline Rance, climate & energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said, said communities such as Aberdeen are already being impacted by the lack of a detailed transition plan.

“It is deeply unjust that oil and gas workers, their unions and communities in places like Aberdeen do not get to decide the future of the North Sea,” she said.

“Oil and gas companies, which are currently in the driving seat, have no interest in coming up with a broad and coherent plan for the North Sea energy transition that takes account of the needs of workers, the supply chain, communities, and the country as a whole.

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“The consequences of the current failed approach are already being felt in Aberdeen and beyond, areas which have seen rising levels of fuel poverty and emergency food bank use over the past decade.

“This shows that the decline of oil and gas is being dictated by the whims of the market, and communities are paying the price for political inaction."

It comes after the UK Government brought in legislation for an annual licencing programme for oil and gas in the North Sea, which was severely criticised by climate campaigners.

Last month, an investigation by The Ferret found that more than 2000 oil spills had taken place in the North Sea since 2011.