No new support for North Sea oil and gas industry announced in Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement

 
Francesca Washtell
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Cabinets From Both UK And Scottish Governments Meet In North East Scotland
The North Sea oil and gas industry was hoping for another round of subsidies and reliefs (Source: Getty)

The government will continue to deliver its pre-existing commitments to the North Sea oil and gas industry, but has not made any significant new pledges to boost the ailing sector.

To help provide a "stable tax regime" to the UK's biggest oil-producing region, the government said it "recommits" to its long-term 'Driving Investment' plan for the industry in today's Autumn Statement.

Although no significant new tax relief or financial boosts were announced, the Treasury said steps will be taken to "simplify the reporting process and reduce the administrative costs of petroleum revenue tax for oil and gas companies".

Read more: Second Scottish independence referendum could slash North Sea oil output

Oil producers, the Scottish National Party, Scottish government and Scottish Labour have called for another round of government subsidies in today's mini-Budget.

Oil and gas revenues from the North Sea have fallen in recent years and many oil majors are offloading their assets in the area. Treasury forecasts indicate revenues will rise to around £1.8bn a year in 2019 to 2010, though they are expected to fall for another two years.

The Scottish National Party's energy spokesman, Callum McCaig, blasted the Autumn Statement announcement:

This has been a complete failure from Philip Hammond. A failure to move on loan guarantees – a failure to encourage explorarion and a failure to deal with decommissioning. Today we got none of that.

Nine months on from the announcement at the March 2016 Budget, there is now a pressing need for the UK government to work directly with the industry to agree and deliver loan guarantees for critical offshore infrastructure.

In the March Budget, former chancellor George Osborne delivered tax relief to the embattled industry, halving the supplementary charge on oil and gas companies from 10 to 20 per cent.

Osborne also added that the petroleum revenue tax, which had taxed profits for older oil and gas fields, would be "effectively abolished".

Read more: North Sea oil group heads for liquidation after crunch talks fall apart

Scott Lehmann, vice president of marketing at Petrotechnics, said:

In today’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor reinforced that commitments made to the UK North Sea oil and gas sector in the March Budget still stand.

While this is good it’s not enough. More measures are needed to support a sector that is severely resource-constrained. Operators are facing immense pressure to do more with less while maintaining safe, efficient operations. This prioritisation of limited resources is creating a growing maintenance backlog for North Sea assets. The result of this could be lessened with additional measures to provide much needed breathing room for operators to address underlying inefficiencies.

Announcing a raft of new infrastructure investments today, chancellor Philip Hammond said Scotland will receive a "very significant" £800m to its budget, allocated over the five years through to 2020/2021.

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