Uncertainty for Aberdeen's oil and gas industry over the race to net zero

ITV News Scotland Reporter Louise Scott meets concerned workers in Aberdeen as the oil and gas industry takes a hit due to net zero policy

The oil and gas industry was once a job for life but now it’s shrouded in uncertainty.

Experts have warned the transition to renewable energy could lead to thousands of job losses.

The Scottish city of Aberdeen has long been known as the oil capital of Europe after reserves were first discovered off the North Sea just over five decades ago.

But now, the once bustling main shopping area, Union Street, is littered with empty units.

The downturn in oil has led to a stagnant property market.

Russell Borthwick, Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce. Credit: ITV News

Russell Borthwick, Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, said: "We've had a number of years now where the key sector that drives the economy of this region has been under pressure - that never more so than now.

"Workers from the city, who are just back from three weeks on the oil rigs, tell me 'everybody worries for the future'."

Experts say the growth in renewable energy is not matching the rate the gas and oil industry is declining.

Professor Paul de Leeuw, Robert Gordon University Aberdeen. Credit: ITV News

Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of the RGU Energy Transition Institute, at Robert Gordon University, said: "At the moment we see the oil and gas industry declining quite fast.

"But the renewables industry is not happening fast enough, so we have a real issue."

"What we do with the supply chain, what do with the workforce?"

Already, £420 million has been spent on Aberdeen’s new port - the majority of business is still with oil and gas - so the move to green energy has to be carefully balanced.

Port of Aberdeen Chief Commercial Officer, Roddy James said: "We all know that the oil and gas industry is decreasing and declining, but it also can't go off a cliff edge because if it does, then you've got this big gap for the new investment comes into renewables, which we believe is between four and five years away."

Roddy James, Port of Aberdeen Credit: ITV News

In the UK one in 220 jobs is in the offshore energy industry, in Scotland, that increases to one in 13, and in the country's northeast it is one in five.

This means any major change to the government's energy policy would have the most significant impact on this part of the country.

With the election campaign well underway, the focus has turned to which party will support the sector.

The race for net zero carbon emissions is a major policy challenge for whoever forms the next government.

Conservatives say they would grant new oil and gas fields, Labour say they won’t, and the SNP have changed their stance and now say they would grant if it met their climate criteria.

The Lib Dems and Greens meanwhile say the focus should be on bolstering the renewable industry.

Political stability alone could make a big difference for this industry, but by then the current instability could have already pushed many highly skilled workers abroad.

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