Accompanied by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, Mr Brown will meet key oil and gas companies Nexen and EnQuest, trade unions, industry body Oil and Gas UK and regulator the Oil and Gas Authority.
Mr Brown will discuss how the Scottish Government’s “clear and unrelenting focus on creating a competitive and supportive business environment” can help the sector and will hear how the industry continues to adapt to the sustained period of low prices.
He will also discuss the UK Government’s commitment – made at its March Budget – to use the UK Guarantees Scheme for oil and gas infrastructure where it could help secure new investment in assets of strategic importance. Progress on this commitment has not yet been forthcoming.
Mr Brown said:
“The Scottish Government strongly believes that the North Sea oil and gas sector can have a bright future for years to come. Given the considerable challenges faced by industry, this will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders and today’s visit will help me to play as strong a role as possible in that process.
“As well as establishing the Energy Jobs Taskforce in 2015, earlier this year the First Minister announced a further support package of £24.5m. This includes £12.5m that has been allocated by Scottish Enterprise for increased innovation and business support measures. While in Aberdeen, I will be talking with stakeholders about how we continue to drive forward this work to help build resilience within the industry, listening to what more can be done to enable the industry to flourish well into the future.
“I will also discuss our £12m Transition Training Fund, which is helping to maintain our highly skilled energy workforce by offering grants to individuals to support their redeployment through retraining or further education.
“We are working to do all that we can within our powers to support the industry. The UK Government, however, retains the key economic levers affecting the sector.
“In the Budget, the UK Government committed to consider proposals for using the UK Guarantees Scheme for oil and gas infrastructure where it could help secure new investment in assets of strategic importance. We are yet to see the progress that is crucial in this area. Sustaining critical infrastructure in the North Sea is a key priority and the UK Government must act quickly and decisively to deliver this commitment.
“The oil and gas industry is an important part of the Scottish economy and the downturn has had a significant impact on the industry and its workforce. Today’s visit, so soon after having been appointed in my new role, demonstrates that both Paul Wheelhouse and I will continue to engage closely with the industry, trade union and regulator to overcome the current challenges and secure a long term future for the sector.”