CHANGES announced in the Budget are expected to create more than 700 new jobs in the North Sea oil and gas industry and support almost 8000 more in the supply chain, two major producers have announced.

Half of the new jobs are likely to be in Scotland.

Maersk Oil and BG Group said the proposed reforms to the oil and gas tax regime, involving a new allowance for ultra High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) fields will enable the development of two new projects, leading to investment of £6bn across new fields.

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Chancellor George Osborne said: "Backing businesses, who in turn create jobs, is part of our long-term plan to fix the economy. The Government's continued support for the oil and gas industry has led to billions of pounds of investment and tens of thousands of jobs across the country."

His Liberal Democrat deputy, Danny Alexander, who today will open Maersk Oil's new offices in Aberdeen, added: "Each new job will mean more security for another family and this shows how the UK Government is supporting one of Scotland's most important industries."

Jakob Thomasen, Maersk Oil's Chief Executive, described the proposed HPHT allowance as a welcome boost to new projects, which could contribute to energy security, jobs and the economy.