A multi-million pound fund has been set up to help the energy sector recover from the dual economic impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the oil and gas price crash.

The £62m Energy Transition Fund will support businesses in the oil, gas and energy sectors over the next five years as they grow and diversify and will help attract private sector investment in the region.

The investment, with a focus on the North-east, underpins the region’s ambitions to become a world leader in the transition to net zero, helping Scotland meet its ambitious targets on climate change.

Major projects to be considered for funding include a Global Underwater Hub, Net Zero Solution Centre projects, a Hydrogen Hub, the Acorn project and an Energy Transition Zone.

The investment will also benefit the wider Scottish energy sector and supply chain, working with local businesses to support sustainable jobs and maximise inclusive economic growth across the country.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This is an extremely difficult time for our business community and we recognise the need to do all we can to help the recovery of key sectors of the economy and Scotland’s regions.

“This package of investment for the North-east will support our energy sector as it recovers from the impact of COVID-19 and will help us make significant progress as we move towards net zero by 2045.

“Aberdeen is recognised globally as a centre of excellence in oil and gas and this funding will help ensure that the knowledge, skills and expertise it has to offer will play a vital role in the energy transition.

“It is vital we move quickly to seize the opportunity to take forward a green, low-carbon recovery and support the workforce as the energy sector diversifies. Now is an opportune time to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy focused on wellbeing.”

Shane Taylor, research and policy manager at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is a hugely welcome announcement and follows on from the ask we made of the Minister in a letter on May 7. As a business community, it reflects our persistent messaging and previous discussions with the Economy Secretary and Energy Minister that separate support for the industry was needed, noting the distinct pressure the sector has come under following the impact of COVID-19. It's also investment in the right direction, focusing on further reducing our emissions from oil and gas production, on diversifying our subsea sector, and on the energy transition.

"It recognises the significant capabilities that the North-east of Scotland has to globally lead the journey towards net-zero in areas like hydrogen and carbon capture, which is testament to the skills and capabilities of our region.

"We know that a sustained economic response will continued to be necessary from both governments as we look to ease lockdown, but this is a really positive step and a vote of confidence in accelerating our region's vision to lead the world in a low carbon recovery."

Chair of Opportunity North East Sir Ian Wood said: “We very much welcome today’s timely funding announcement from the Scottish Government to help strengthen the North-east of Scotland’s growing position as a global integrated energy transition cluster creating a lot of employment over the next 20 years."

Oil & Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “The support from the Scottish Government today is good news for jobs, supply chain companies and energy communities. This significant funding recognises the essential role of Scotland’s offshore oil and gas industry in realising a net zero Scotland by 2045."

Chief executive of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre Colette Cohen said: “The creation of this fund to accelerate the transition of the energy sector to a new and exciting net zero future is very welcome news. We look forward to working with industry and government to deliver these exciting programmes and make sure the North East of Scotland continues to be a leader in technology and innovation for the net zero economy.”

Background

The £62m funding package is available to support Net Zero projects, including:

  • A Global Underwater Hub in Aberdeen focused on helping the subsea and underwater sector grow with a focus on diversification and export support
  • A new Energy Transition Zone business park adjacent to the Aberdeen South Harbour
  • A range of innovation projects led by Oil and Gas Technology Centre’s Net Zero Solution Centre

The fund will also position the North-east of Scotland as a Hydrogen model region, contributing early funding to projects including: ACORN CCS & ACORN Hydrogen; Aberdeen Vision; and the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub.

  • ACORN Hydrogen, located at the St Fergus gas terminal, seeks to produce hydrogen from Natural Gas and the linked ACORN CCS project would capture and store the CO2 safely and permanently in North Sea reservoirs.
  • The Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub presents the opportunity to use green hydrogen in the transport sector.

The Scottish Government will also work with the UK Government and industry to ensure funding supports an oil and gas sector deal.