This week the first minister began her visit to China by discussing trade deals and witnessing the agreement between Aberdeen-based Triton Marine & Engineering Consultants and China Offshore Oil Engineering Corporation (COOEC) being signed.
Triton plans to increase its current head count of six to up to 40 employees, giving them the opportunity to bid for larger scale projects from decommissioning to wind.
This partnership shows the commitment of the SNP Scottish Government to investing in the oil and gas sector and in Aberdeen, and how this support can help attract investment from international markets.
The deal comes at a time when we are seeing increased investment in both oil and gas and the renewable energy sector in the North Sea. The first wind turbine has this week been installed off the North East coast by Vattenfall.
It is the first of 11 turbines planned for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) project, which will be Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility.
Swedish energy company Vattenfall are a great example of innovation and progressive thinking in the North Sea.
Having the world’s most powerful wind turbines located off our coast is a real coup for Aberdeen.
BP has also announced this week that they will develop two new fields in Alligin and Vorlich in the North Sea, investing an expected £420million.
This commitment to new fields is not simply about money – it shows the North Sea still has potential for those who wish to find it.
There are up to 20 billion barrels of oil remaining in the North Sea, and this renewed focus on innovation and technology will be crucial to maximising continued economic recovery in Aberdeen.
We need to be given the chance to manage the industry here in Scotland, where our own interests are our top priority, and the revenue from the industry’s rebound must be reinvested to support jobs and to future-proof the sector from potential downturns.
Successive UK Tory and Labour governments have raided the industry for cash, without planning for long-term investment.
In December, the Scottish Government launched Scotland’s first Energy Strategy. This sets out our vision for the future of the energy industry in Scotland – recognising the potential of the renewable energy sector but also committing investment to support innovation across our oil and gas sector.
We can use the world-leading expertise and technology developed over several decades in Scotland’s oil and gas industry to develop new wind technology and other low carbon projects like Carbon Capture and Storage.
Aberdeen has been a global leader in oil and gas for many years. Our city is a great place to live and work and the Scottish Government investment this week will help to prepare the sector for a positive future.
We must take advantage of every opportunity and be brave in the face of new challenges to ensure that the north-east remains at the forefront of the energy industry and continues to deliver benefits for decades to come.
I am incredibly honoured to be the first dedicated minister for mental health and to have announced the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan in March this year.
The suicide rate in Scotland has fallen by 17% over the last decade, and the Scottish Government will continue to prioritise this downward trend.
On Monday, I spoke to Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland, answering questions from members of the public and listening to some of their personal experiences of suicide.
I want to encourage as many people as possible to engage with the Suicide Prevention Action Plan and to submit their views to help shape the final version of the plan that is due to be published this summer.
NHS Scotland are running a series of public events to support discussion and I encourage as many people as possible to engage in these events.
The Scottish Government’s focus, alongside partners and stakeholders, is to support people who are most at risk by listening to the views of people affected by suicide and those delivering support as we shape our action plan.
Every life matters, and we must do everything we can to prevent suicide.
On Wednesday I attended the public consultation for the proposed residential development on South Esplanade West.
Aberdeen Harbour Board’s plans include 256 homes on the waterfront of the Esplanade, along with shops and public green spaces.
Investment in the area is long overdue and would benefit the wider community. However, at present, the planning application does not detail the proposed housing matrix, nor what homes will be made available to buy under an affordable housing scheme.
Should the application be successful I hope Aberdeen Harbour Board and the developers consider the housing needs of the area and develop their plans with the community to ensure their vision fits with those who live and work in Torry.
It is important any development is sympathetic to the local community and the public is included in all stages of planning.
It would be disappointing if developers missed the opportunity to create a waterfront space which complements the local environment but also offers significant economic investment.
I urge Torry residents to make sure their voices are heard throughout the planning process.