New Energy Secretary Greg Clark has said that his strategy for getting Britain’s industrial economy back on track will focus on the oil and gas sector. Clark was appointed Secretary to Prime Minister Theresa May’s new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). He said he would not be intervening in the industry’s ongoing dispute, whilst confirming that the oil and gas watchdogs would be given full legislative powers.
Clark visited Aberdeen upon the merger of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc). Upon being asked about the sector’s role in his new strategy, Clark said: “It is absolutely of vital importance, not just to Aberdeen and the north-east but to the whole of the UK. If you think of the strengths that we have in oil and gas – quite apart from the exploration and production in UKCS – the services that are produced right around the world by companies and individuals based here in Aberdeen, it is literally a world beating industry.” He added that the industrial strategy takes into account the long-term view of how Britain will compete on the global stage and, with the oil and gas sectors having great strength, it would be here that opportunities exist.
At the same time, Clark also revealed that, from 1st October, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) will move from being an executive agency to a wholly devolved agency. It means that from October, full legislative power will be given to the OGA to govern the future of the oil and gas industries.
Finally, Clark revealed that he would not be stepping into the current dispute between Wood Group and the offshore workers, some 400 of which are on strike. He said that the matter continues to be a commercial issue between a workforce and their company and, therefore, it was no place for the government to take control. “I hope both sides will be able to come together and resolve their differences so the very committed workforce that the North Sea has always had and that Aberdeen and other places across the country have supplied can be contributing to what is a very important industry,” he said.
Clark has been involved in the energy sector for some time, having previously been made Shadow Energy Minister in 2008. He moved on to overseeing decentralisation during the coalition, but under May’s new government, he is taking charge of the brand new BEIS department.
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