IT is with great frustration that I read of Scotland losing out once again in the North Sea decommissioning market (“Scotland ‘losing out’ on a £40bn North Sea lifeline”, The Herald, August 8).

Confirmation that the Janice Floating Production Unit will be decommissioned in Norway should set alarm bells ringing as our economy, staring down the barrel of another recession, stands to lose out on an £8 billion manufacturing bounty between now and 2020 and anything between £30bn and £60bn between now and 2050.

We are now paying the price for a collective complacency on the part of the industry bodies and our respective governments. This is highlighted by the fact that the Oil and Gas Authority (Oga) has only got round to producing an initial decommissioning strategy document, which was kept under wraps within industry circles for months while the decline in the offshore sector continued at pace.

Meanwhile, “super-majors” like Shell have been lobbying the Department for Energy and Climate Change to extrapolate oil companies from the Ospar rules on offshore decommissioning, meaning that without a meaningful state strategy the clean-up of the North Sea will be on the industry’s terms along with the economic gain.

This should concern the public because this will inevitably leave the Treasury and the taxpayer liable for the clean-up costs that the oil companies would leave behind while the country misses out on an open goal opportunity to boost our decimated manufacturing base.

At this point, we are seriously lagging behind the competition. Scotland can still gain significantly from the decommissioning agenda but it requires an urgent and collective approach between governments, the industry and its wider stakeholders – including our manufacturing and offshore trade unions – and an acceptance that Scotland must prepare now for a post-oil future.

We should be in no doubt that Scotland has the skills in employers like Bi Fab and we have the infrastructure capacity in areas like Dundee and the North East too, but where is the leadership, investment and strategic direction?

Time is running out very quickly and if we fail to act then the economic and employment gains from the decommissioning of our North Sea will be enjoyed by other countries for generations to come.

Gary Smith,

GMB Scotland Secretary,

Fountain House, 1/3 Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow.

IT'S disappointing that the Janice Floating Production Platform is to be towed from the North Sea to Norway for decommissioning. It's a missed opportunity for spin-off employment for workers from Scotland's declining oil industry. With much more decommissioning work in the pipeline, it's essential that Scottish firms are given the chance to submit more competitive bids and are better equipped to be successful through proper facilities and training. Scotland has some of the best engineers in the world. Perhaps it's time for the Scottish Government to be more proactive than reactive and thereby improve Scotland's economic prospects.

Bob MacDougall,

Oxhill, Kippen, Strlingshire.

WITH reference to your North Sea lifeline story, there is an alternative. As stated in the article the UK is set to spend billions on offshore decommissioning and removal. It is generally believed the oil and gas companies will pay for this work. This is not the case as the taxpayer will fund a large proportion through tax breaks. Whilst the removal option is what should be done if capital is unlimited, I believe it is not the most sustainable option – we are spending a huge amount of money for little return. After the task is complete, the legacy will be compliance with regulation, marginal environmental benefit, some technology we might export, the creation of little wealth and little long-term employment.

From my oil and gas viewpoint, I am very happy with the plans and policies in place supporting decommissioning and removal. This sector currently provides and will continue to provide an important part of my business.

However, if I take the standpoint of an informed taxpayer, I am convinced that the £40.6 billion spend (Expert Commission Report, 2014) is not maximizing value for UK plc. My contention is: redirect the substantial capital spend required for removal into renewables: the consequence being far superior sustainability metrics. The benefits for society, the environment and the economy will be substantially greater than that provided by asset removal. Health, education, our ailing steel and shipbuilding industries could also be better options for the decommissioning tax liabilities.

Clearly this would require huge changes in current policy and legislation. To support my contention a comparative sustainability assessment should be undertaken. Compare the sustainability metrics for the current decommissioning plans with the alternative of well plugging, make the asset and infrastructure clean and safe, leave in place and redirect the capital saved into renewables. To my knowledge this comparison has never been undertaken.

Tom Baxter,

9 Deemount Avenue, Aberdeen.