VETERAN oil explorer Algy Cluff, 76, saw his pay fall more than 16 per cent to £284,136 last year as a Scottish Government moratorium forced his company to write off licences that could have converted “billions of tones” of offshore coal into gas.

“Longannet, which was the last remaining coal fired power station in Scotland, has now closed and makes a mockery of the Scottish Nationalist Party’s energy policy where they have even imposed, at this critical time, a moratorium on both shale gas and underground coal gasification,” Mr Cluff writes in the 2015 annual report for Cluff Natural Resources.

“We accordingly concluded that continuing to pioneer for a future energy formula which would convert cleanly and safely our offshore coal into gas was not consonant with our shareholders’ best interests.”

Mr Cluff said lack of coherence in energy policy at a UK and Scottish level was posing “grave threats” to the country’s energy stability and that government “prefers to place its primary hopes on the delivery of onshore shale together with questionable (and heavily subsidised) renewables.”

Earlier this week the company confirmed it had written off the £337,000 value of its nine UK underground coal gasification licences – after concluding there was no current prospect of developing any – and switching its focus to conventional North Sea assets.

Mr Cluff received no pay or pension in 2015, but a salary of £200,000, benefits in kind of £29,410 and a share-based payment of £54,726. His total pay has fallen from £350,118 in 2013 and £339,191 in 2014.

Finance director Graham Swindells also saw his pay fall just under 27 per cent from £232,795 to £170,532.

John Gordon ‘Algy’ Cluff founded the firm that discovered the Buchan oil field in the North Sea in 1975.