Customs charges due to Brexit could cost the offshore industry £145million this summer and £120 million every year thereafter, north-east firms have been warned.
The financial bombshell has been delivered to the oil and gas industry in letters sent out by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Until now, the industry has been able to take widgets offshore without paying tax and Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride had given assurances this would remain the case after Brexit.
Now HMRC has warned new charges will be brought in from mid-July.
An Oil and Gas UK spokeswoman confirmed the initial cost was expected to be £145 million, followed by £120 million every year from 2019.
Aberdeen North SNP MP Kirsty Blackman raised concerns over the impact of such charges during a Westminster debate on the oil and gas industry organised by Gordon Conservative MP Colin Clark.
She secured a pledge by the UK Government to urgently investigate the matter but warned a storm was on the horizon.
“There is a major issue brewing around customs,” she said.
“Ship work end use relief is a customs relief for items going offshore.
“I received assurances from the Minister this relief would continue to be applied post-Brexit but the action HMRC is taking is in direct contradiction to that.
“These changes have to be made in the early summer of this year and businesses need clarification.”
Energy Minister Claire Perry said she would act urgently on the issue.
She said: “I have instructed my officials to seek clarity immediately and to write to all MPs here today by the end of this month so there can be no lack of clarity as required.”
Ms Perry went on to announce an immediate scoping study of deep water ports for oil and gas sector decommissioning.
“I understand completely the concerns around deep water ports,” she said. “I’m going to announce we’re commissioning immediately a UK-wide scoping study working very closely with my Scottish Government counterparts.
“It’s very important we look across the UK with the understanding that if we could get a deep water port this would have a material impact on our decommissioning capabilities.”
Gordon MP Colin Clark welcomed the announcement, which he said would be critical for giving an outlet for the expertise centred in Aberdeen.
“A deep water site will play a key part in enabling us to use the technological and design expertise we have in Aberdeen,” he said.
“It would be brilliant if Cromarty Firth, Nigg or even Dundee got a deep water port because it would be a big employer for people in Aberdeen.”