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Ed Balls calls for support for North Sea oil industry

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has written an article calling for the protection of the North Sea oil industry amid plummeting oil prices.

Writing in the Press and Journal ahead of a visit to Aberdeen with Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, he warned that the industry was "at a cross-roads" and called for a resilience fund for oil workers and tax incentives:

The oil industry is vital to the Scottish economy and nobody can doubt it needs support. There's nothing to stop the SNP Government in Edinburgh setting this up now. There's no time to waste ...

We need to see urgent action to improve the tax incentives for North Sea oil investment. And if George Osborne fails to act then I am clear that, after the general election in May, a UK Labour government will. Because failing to act will not only risk jobs and investment now, it will also cost the UK taxpayer in the long-term as we lose revenue from oil that gets left in the ground.

– ed balls, shadow chancellor


SNP urges Scottish Labour to back North Sea measures

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has called on Scottish Labout to back its proposals for alleviating pressure on the North Sea oil and gas industry.

Speaking ahead of a debate on the subject in the House of Commons, SNP Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:

Every day without action from the UK Government risks further damage to the oil and gas industry. Businesses and oil workers in the North Sea do not need to wait for another review, they need action now.

Labour must give their full support to the immediate reduction in the supplementary charge and support an exploration tax credit that would secure a strong future for the North Sea.

– Fergus Ewing, scottish energy minister

Scottish Labour calls for North Sea resilience fund

Scottish Labour is calling for a resilience fund to be made available for those whose livelihoods depend on the North Sea oil and gas industry.

It has also suggested reducing business rates on the sector as a temporary measure to "allow the business to stabilise or to mitigate the impact of large scale redundancies".

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran accused both Westminster and Holyrood of inaction:

We need the UK Government to come forward with their long term plan for the industry to provide operators with some certainty, and we need the Scottish Government to set up a Resilience Fund so that Aberdeen and the surrounding areas do not have to bear the brunt of losses in the industry.

– Margaret Curran, shadow Scottish secretary

Government urged to take action over North Sea jobs

The Government will be urged to take action to save jobs in the North Sea oil and gas industry during a House of Commons debate on the situation today.

A BP platform around 100 miles east of Aberdeen Credit: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

The industry is facing the loss of jobs and future investment as a result of the plummeting price of oil on global markets.

North Sea oil and gas provides about 450,000 jobs, with a high concentration in Aberdeen where it supports more than half of all jobs.

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran said this could be the biggest threat to Scottish jobs in more than 20 years and urged the Scottish and UK Governments to "take the action that is needed".

Father of North Sea crash victim 'needs more answers'

The father of one of the 16 men killed in the North Sea helicopter crash in 2009 says the families need more answers, and criticised the length of the inquiry.

John Edwards told ITV News he believes there are still many questions left unanswered and call for a public inquiry into the crash.


North Sea crash mother 'let down by the system'

Audrey Wood, who lost her son Stuart Wood in the North Sea helicopter crash said she felt let down by the failure for the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) to bring about criminal proceedings against the helicopter operator blamed for a series of errors that led to the fatal crash.

Not only did we hear of multiple breaches of health and safety but the decision was also made without all the evidence being present and vital witness statements had not been taken.

Safety is absolutely paramount and everything must be done by the book. There can be no excuse for not doing this. The length of wait of nearly five years has been intolerable for all the families and we, the families, feel let down by the system.

Companies 'more interested in burying than fact finding'

The lawyer for the families of the 16 men killed in the North Sea helicopter crash said they would trust nothing less than a full public inquiry into the failures that led to their deaths.

The wreckage of the helicopter, that crashed killing all 16 men on board. Credit: Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire

Mr Gordon said the Scottish and Westminster governments would be "astounded" at the way the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) had been conducted, and that the companies and authorities were more interested in hiding what had happened.

"If the Scottish Government and the Westminster Government looked at the way the FAI was conducted they would be astounded."

He said BP, the Civil Aviation Authority, Eurocopter and Bond had been more interested in "burying this" than fact-finding.

"Once again we reiterate our appeal that there should be a public inquiry here."

Families criticise length of crash inquiry

The families of the 16 men who died in a helicopter crash in the North Sea in 2009 have criticised the length of the inquiry.

Read: Helicopter operator failures blamed for fatal crash

The wreckage of the crash, that killed 16 men in 2009. Credit: Press Association archive

Speaking at a news conference in Aberdeen, their lawyer Chris Gordon reiterated calls for a public inquiry and asked the Crown Office to revisit the question of whether there should be prosecutions. He said:

"It is five years since this accident happened. The inquiry has taken far too long.

Many of the witnesses could simply not remember anything. It is an appalling state of affairs which the families all agree with."

Bond: Findings not proved beyond reasonable doubt

The helicopter operator heavily criticised by an inquiry into the North Sea helicopter crash in 2009 said the findings did not prove their responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.

Read: Helicopter operator failures blamed for fatal crash

In a statement, Bond Offshore said:

Although Sheriff Principal Pyle has indicated that spalling was, on balance, the most likely reason for the catastrophic gearbox failure which caused the accident - a view not shared by the independent Air Accidents Investigation Branch - he did not find that this was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Additionally, he determined that even if we had followed the correct procedure it is by no means certain that the gearbox would have been removed, as there may not have been sufficient evidence of particles to warrant its removal.

But we have always accepted that we made mistakes through honest confusion over telephone calls and emails.

The statement went on to express their "deep sorrow" at the loss of the 16 men who died in the crash.

More: Families call for public inquiry into North Sea helicopter crash

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