A SCOTLAND Office minister who bizarrely said the beauty of North Sea oil was that it could “sit in barrels” and not be used has lost his job.

David Duguid was ousted in the closing phase of the wide-ranging reshuffle Boris Johnson began on Wednesday afternoon.

The Banff & Buchan MP had only been one of two junior ministers at the Scotland Office since June 2020, working alongside Iain Stewart.

His replacement has yet to be named, and it is unclear if Mr Johnson will pick another Scottish Tory.

In practice, there are only two options among Scottish Tory MPs - Andrew Bowie or John Lamont - as Douglas Ross is Scottish Tory leader and David Mundell has already been sacked as Scottish Secretary.

In theory, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson could serve as a minister from her new place in the House of Lords, although she had previosuly dismissed the idea.

Mr Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, is understood to be safe for now.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack also kept his job in the reshuffle, which saw Dominic Raab demoted to Justice Secretary and deputy PM, as Liz Truss replaced him as Foreign Secretary. 

Mr Duguid, 50, who has been an MP since 2017, was ridiculed last month after blundering into the row over the proposed development of the Cambo oilfield off Shetland.

The project, which could produce 132m tonnes of carbon if approved, is particularly sensitive with the COP26 climate conference being held in Glasgow in November.

Ahead of meeting developers Siccar Energy, Mr Duguid told BBC Radio Scotland that any oil extracted from Cambo might never be used.

He said any go-ahead was to “extract” oil and gas, not its consumption and combustion

Asked if the plan was to let it “sit in barrels” not use it, Mr Duguid said: “Well, technically you could.

"The beauty of oil is you can actually store it - gas is more complicated to store.

“Better to have the oil and gas there and not need it, than to need it then have to import it.”

Mr Johnson today gave his new team a “half-time pep talk”, urging them to unite to deliver for the nation.

In the first meeting of the rehuffled Cabinet, the Prime Minister said it was time to “spit out the orange peel” and work together, having sacked three people who would otherwise have joined them around the table in Downing Street.

Both Mr Raab and Ms Truss sat opposite Mr Johnson, amid reports they have both staked a claim to the Chevening grace-and-favour residence in Kent.

The Times said Mr Raab believed his new role of deputy PM, largely interpreted as a consolation prize, means he should be able to keep it.

However by convention access is usually bestowed on the Foreign Secretary.

Downing Street said no decision had been made over which minister would get access to the residence until the reshuffle was over, with a few lower ranking changes still to come.

“There is a long process in place for nominating the occupants of Chevening House and we will update in due course,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“We will conclude the reshuffle and then we will get into the longstanding processes, like residences.”

He said there was not “one single post” that was entitled to use the Grade I listed building.

Mr Johnson appeared to be in a buoyant mood as he gave an opening speech to the ministers crowded around the Cabinet table, who were not wearing masks.

With former education secretary Gavin Williamson among those sacked, the Prime Minister told the surviving Cabinet members they were all there on “merit”, but added that it was time to redouble their efforts to deliver for the public.

“I’m just thinking about delivery… I’ve seen a few delivery rooms, probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody in this… with the possible exception of Jacob (Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader),” said Mr Johnson, a father of at least six.

“I know that delivery normally involves a superhuman effort by at least one person in the room.

“But there are plenty of other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome.”

Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie is pregnant with their second child but he refuses to say how many children he already has, while Mr Rees-Mogg has six children.

The Prime Minister continued: “To mix my metaphors, this is, if you like, the half-time pep talk.

“This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps.

“We get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we’re going to have to do it together and we’re going to have to do it as a team.”

Also sacked with Mr Williamson were Robert Jenrick and Robert Buckland, who were dispatched to the backbenches having served as housing secretary and justice secretary.

Downing Street has not denied reports that Mr Raab resisted his change of roles during a tense conversation with the Prime Minister. 

Presenting himself as head of a Government that can take on issues that have “bedevilled” other administrations, Mr Johnson pledged they would “get social care done” and would enable the NHS to “bounce back from the pandemic”.

After being made Tory party co-chairman, former culture secretary Oliver Dowden urged Conservative staff to get ready for the next election, which could be in 20 months’ time.

Mr Johnson’s bloodletting continued into Thursday when some lengthy frontbench careers were ended at a stroke.

John Whittingdale – who had been media minister – was the highest-profile casualty, while Nick Gibb’s lengthy tenure in the Department for Education was also terminated.

Mr Whittingdale said some changes were predictable while others “came out of the blue” as he recognised a need to make the Cabinet more representative of wider society.

“But equally I think it’s no bad thing to have a bit of experience around that table and people who have got a good grasp of the detail of the jobs that they’re being asked to do,” he told BBC Newscast.

As he sent Mr Duguid to the backbenches, he appointed James Cartlidge as a replacement assistant whip.

Tom Pursglove, Maria Caulfield and David Rutley were made parliamentary under secretaries of state.