Scottish Tories vow to check progress on offshore tax-change plan

Scottish Conservative MPs have said they will keep a “watching brief” on the progress of tax changes to help the North Sea oil and gas sector.

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond agreed to introduce a policy of Transferable Tax History (TTH) to boost sales of mature assets in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

Oil and Gas UK said the move could help unlock £40 billion of new investment amid signs of renewed confidence returning to the basin.

The Treasury said the policy would come into effect by November 2018, and North-east MPs say they will ensure that timetable is met.

Colin Clark, Conservative MP for Gordon, said: “It has been very pleasing to see signs of investor confidence returning, with mergers and acquisition activity in the UKCS topping £8bn.

“TTH will help to unlock further investment and allow more deals to be done, prolonging the life of the basin and ensuring we can maximise economic recovery.

“We will also keep a watching brief on progress and remain open to providing further assistance to the industry as required in the coming years.”

As announced in the Autumn Budget, the Government will introduce a transferable tax history mechanism for UK oil producers for deals that complete on or after November 1.

This will allow companies that sell North Sea oil and gas fields to transfer some of their tax payment history to the buyers of those fields.

Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman MP said: “We’ve waited and waited for the Tories to notice the impact of the downturn in the oil and gas industry and, after years of inaction, they’ve finally done something about it.

“Better late than never certainly, and we welcome the changes announced by the Chancellor insofar as they go.

“However, they are only one piece of the jigsaw – and fall well short of what’s needed at this crucial time to make sure we maximise recovery and get the industry back on an even keel.

“There is nothing in the Tory plans for boosting exploration, developing new prospects in the North Sea, or anything even close to future-proofing the industry against future downturns, and encouraging investment.”