ABERDEEN, Scotland, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Following plans to help energy workers with new training, the Scottish government said it was offering support to protect oil and gas companies from risk.
"To help individual firms maintain their research and development during this difficult period, I am pleased to announce a further package of support," Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement. "Scottish Enterprise [the main economic development agency] is prioritizing $14.2 million to reduce research and development risks and deliver specialist expertise to firms as they seek to take forward new projects."
With financial support in hand, British Prime Minister David Cameron last week said his government was charting a new strategy to maximize economic recovery in the North Sea, where BP said last month it was shedding staff in response to lower crude oil prices.
Scotland's backing for research and development follows the allocation of $17.1 million to help energy workers with transition training.
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said Edinburgh doesn't maintain specific data on employment in the offshore energy sector, though layoffs contrast with official statistics showing private sector employment was up 1 percent from third quarter 2014.
Sturgeon said innovation is a necessary component for recovery, though low capital spending allowances during the downturn leaves energy companies with difficult fiscal decisions.
"Scottish oil and gas firms are at the forefront of the industry with an expertise that has been built up over many decades, but they need to continually innovate and evolve to ensure they can retain their competitiveness," she said.