Veteran oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood claims Labour’s North Sea oil and gas strategy will “place in jeopardy tens of thousands of jobs”.
The industry expert is urging Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to visit Aberdeen to meet with business leaders as an “immediate priority”.
He described the party’s suggested ban on future oil and gas licences as “very concerning” and “environmentally damaging”.
The billionaire businessman’s remarks come just hours after Labour’s set-piece speech on energy in Edinburgh on Monday morning.
The party has been forced to defend its strategy around the North Sea in recent weeks after a fierce backlash from industry and trade union leaders.
Sir Ian has joined calls to base Labour’s promised new headquarters for a publicly owned energy company, GB Energy, in Aberdeen, saying it would make “perfect sense”.
While he described the party’s ambition to make the UK a clean energy superpower as “laudable”, he thinks a ban on future licences would have an “adverse impact”.
Sir Ian told the Press and Journal: “The suggested ban on future oil and gas licenses is very concerning and economically and environmentally damaging.
“It makes absolutely no sense to reduce our reliance on domestic oil and gas production only to increase imports from overseas and place in jeopardy tens of thousands of jobs and yet this is exactly what will happen if this approach is taken.
“What we need is a managed and just transition that protects jobs and that should prioritise supporting our oil and gas industry to make the investments required that will in turn help us accelerate toward new and green energies.
“I urge Sir Keir to reflect on the adverse impact this policy will have on one of the UK’s most successful and globally recognised industries and encourage him to visit Aberdeen to meet with business leaders as an immediate priority so we can chart a more pragmatic course, one that ensures we achieve maximum energy and economic security toward meeting net zero targets.”
The launch event took place in Leith, Edinburgh, as opposed to Aberdeen, the energy capital of Europe, where thousands of jobs rely on oil and gas.
Asked about the choice of location, Sir Keir deferred to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar who said: “The promise I want to make to colleagues in Aberdeen and the people who work in our oil and gas sector is this is a plan that is for you and we will work with you to deliver.
“This is not a plan that is bad for Aberdeen. I am confident it is good for Aberdeen, it’s good news for the north-east, for Scotland and every part of the UK.”
Clean energy superpower
Sir Keir has pledged to put Scotland front and centre of his plans to make the UK a clean energy superpower by 2030.
The party says it will create thousands of green manufacturing jobs at Scottish ports, if elected to form a new government at Westminster.
Under Labour’s plan GB Energy would make available up to £600 million in funding for councils and up to £400m in low-interest loans each year for communities.
However, Scottish Energy Minister Gillian Martin, said: “Scotland has been a key energy provider for decades. Our renewables will continue that.
“We don’t need a token HQ based here- we need the power to trade it, regulate it and ensure the profits make difference in our communities. Not fooled by any detail free announcements on this.”