Scottish ministers appear to be softening their opposition to new North Sea oil and gas developments following the departure of Nicola Sturgeon.

Earlier this week, First Minister Humza Yousaf indicated a more pragmatic view on oil and gas in a private meeting with North-east business leaders.

Now, in an interview with Daily Business, Economy Secretary Neil Gray has given a commitment to supporting the sector “for some time” as the industry transitions to cleaner energies.


In January, The Scottish Government announced a presumption against new oil and gas exploration as part of its new energy strategy.

Despite the licensing of new developments being reserved to Westminster, the draft strategy supports "the fastest possible just transition" away from oil and gas.

Under Ms Sturgeon, the government's position was that it can no longer support the previous position of "maximising economic recovery" of fossil fuel reserves.


However, in comments at odds with the Scottish Government’s junior Green Party coalition partners, Mr Gray said a balance had to be struck.

“Until we can phase it out there will be an element of reliance on natural gas. It is not about shutting down the oil and gas industry overnight,” he told Daily Business.

“A just transition is needed, but oil and gas has to be supported,” he said.

Huge contribution

Mr Gray was asked by Daily Business if he subscribed to government’s presumption against new exploration for oil and gas.

He responded: “It is open for consultation. We have to understand that the oil and gas sector has contributed a huge amount to our economy. It will have to continue for some time.”

He also said he had spoken to trade body Offshore Energies UK this week about "making sure we get the balance right”.

He added: “I don’t think there is as much dis-alignment as people would have us believe.”

Click here to read the full interview.

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