Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Cabinet spoke yesterday of the importance of protecting the north-east’s oil and gas “success story” at a question and answer evening in Aberdeen.
Following a day visiting various businesses around the north-east and cutting the first sod of the long-awaited Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the first minister and her Cabinet invited questions from the public .
Speaking to a crowd of hundreds at the Music Hall, Ms Sturgeon highlighted the importance of the oil and gas industry and how the Scottish Government is dealing with the crisis.
The first minister said: “I don’t think it will surprise anybody this evening to know that I want to spend a fair bit of time talking about the importance of the oil and gas industry, not only to the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire economy but to the economy of our country.
“We want to avoid losing jobs, which the industry will require again once the conditions improve, which is why keeping our task force is such an important priority for us.
“It’s worth remembering that although there are differences this time, the oil and gas sector here has faced tough times before.
“Back in 1999 the price of oil fell to $10 a barrel, and after that there were predictions that the industry would only employ 13,000 people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the end of the next decade.
“But the opposite happened, and instead of falling, employment grew rapidly, and by 2010 it had not reached 30,000 but 130,000.
“I’m not saying that recovery this time will resemble exactly what happened back then, but in many respects we’re at least actually better placed now than we were in 1999, and that’s because the expertise that Scottish companies have gained over the years is now being exported all around the world.
“All of us know that the industry is going through a challenging time right now, which is why the Scottish Government has already taken action, but our immediate priority is to protect jobs in the sector, while also helping people that have faced redundancy to return to work.
“We’re truly a global success story. In fact, you can go to any oil rig, anywhere in the world, and I’m reliably told that you can hear an Aberdonian accent – so that is something I think to be very proud of.”
By Kieran Beattie