The general election campaign is less than a week old, but representatives of the oil and gas industry have wasted no time in sending a clear message to whoever forms the next UK Government.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce warned today that the party which wins the election on July 4 will have just 100 days to restore confidence and save 100,000 jobs in the North Sea, or risk losing investment worth around £30 billion. It came as the 39th Energy Transition Report from the Chamber revealed that there has been a sharp decline in work across production, exploration, and renewables as well as investors await the outcome of the poll.

According to the report, industry confidence in UK activities has plunged to a record low, as high taxes and a potential exploration ban threaten to bring the domestic oil and gas industry to a premature end.

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The Chamber renewed its call for an independent body, free from political influence, to oversee the energy transition.

And its report underlines the need for a “relentless focus” on renewable energy job creation, echoing calls from trade union Unite for major investment to create jobs in wind power manufacturing and operations, hydrogen, carbon capture, and decommissioning.

The Energy Transition survey, sponsored by KPMG and ETZ, found that companies expect only around half of their work (51%) to be in renewables by 2030, up from 34% currently. It also found that, despite the price of oil remaining higher than $80 per barrel, confidence among companies working in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is now lower than the financial crash and the pandemic, when oil prices had slumped to around $16 a barrel.

Tax, political environment and market stability were highlighted as the three biggest concerns facing companies based in the UK energy sector, with firms increasingly focusing their investment and resources in projects and markets overseas.

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The survey was published amid ongoing concern in the industry about the windfall tax or energy profits levy, introduced by the UK Government in May 2022 in response to the extraordinary profits energy companies began making as commodity prices surged following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Energy companies have said the windfall tax is discouraging investment in the UK and increasing the country's reliance on more expensive imports of energy, although tax incentives were brought in alongside the levy to encourage firms to continue investing in the North Sea.

“The Energy Transition survey has charted the highs and lows of the UK’s energy sector for the past 20 years, but never before have its findings been so important; and the need for action so urgent,” said Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

“From our survey and listening to focus groups, we believe the next government has just 100 days to convince industry that there is a future in the UK Continental Shelf. Failure to do so will result in the current apathy, which is evident throughout this report, turning to open revolt, where companies move their resources on to countries which offer a less hostile business environment and better returns. Privately, industry leaders are being very clear that this will be the outcome of an extended windfall tax with scaled back allowances.

“Should this transpire, our path to net zero could look more like a road to nowhere.”