Scottish government aims to build confidence in regional energy sector as the British vote in June to leave the European Union adds a degree of uncertainty. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Scottish government said Wednesday it would work to build confidence in the energy sector given the uncertainty tied to Britain's vote to leave the EU.
"We have a duty to provide as much reassurance and certainty as possible in these circumstances," Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said in a statement.
The International Monetary Fund this year revised its global economic forecast lower largely in response to the June decision by British voters to leave the European Union. After the vote, the Scottish government said it would consider a referendum for independence, its second this decade.
More than 60 percent of the Scottish voters checked a ballot to stay in the European Union
With crude oil prices down 50 percent from what they were in the wake of a Scottish vote for independence two years ago, energy companies like BP are cutting back and, as a result, thousands of jobs have been lost in the British oil and gas sector so far this year.
The Scottish government said the oil and gas industry is adjusting to a market where oil has hovered in the mid- to upper-$40 range for the better part of a year. According to government data from 2015-16, the rate of increase in production was the largest annual increase since recordkeeping began in 1999.
Though the capital spending for that period of $13.5 billion was down by about 17 percent from the previous year, the government said the regional North Sea oil and gas sector has a bright future for Scotland.
"We will seek to provide leadership, clarity and direction for industry -- the impetus for which has greatly increased following the EU referendum," Wheelhouse said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in an address to lawmakers last week called on all parties to support the country remaining in the European Union, even as the British government charts its departure.