An issue of growing concern here in the North East is the volatility in the oil market and the job losses which we have seen in this sector over the past months.
It is clear that if the price of a barrel of oil remains so low there will be the threat of further job losses in the industry. In these times of great challenges for the North East, an economy which has provided so much to the wider Scottish and UK economies over so many years, it is time for our region to receive more support.
We have seen thousands of job losses to date with 5,500 the number quoted in October this year and with many predicting a prolonged period of low price the effect is not only being seen in the oil and gas sector but in the service sector too.
I recently raised a question in the Scottish Parliament on this issue after the most recent publication of job figures in the North East asking what action ministers are taking to support the energy industry in the North East in these turbulent times. I highlighted the potential for a renewed strategy to support the energy industry and a fresh focus on policies to support the sector as well as highlighting the importance of the Aberdeen city region deal bid in securing the future of the energy industry in the north-east and making investments in the infrastructure and connectivity to take the city forward.
The Cabinet Secretary’s response highlighted some of the work that is on-going in the region such as the energy jobs task force but it is clear that the ongoing situation in the industry demands further action. Of course there is a role for both the UK and Scottish Governments in supporting the industry through these difficult times and initiatives around retraining and future employment are essential. The message which must get across loud and clear to Ministers in both governments is that delivering a city region deal for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is key to securing the industry to the North East and retaining the skills and expertise we have here.