NICOLA Sturgeon has insisted that it is “not credible” to turn to ramping up North Sea oil and gas production as a short-term solution to banning Russian fossil fuels imports.

The UK Government has announced that Russian oil imports will be banned from the end of the year. But with imports from Vladimir Putin’s state-run oil only making up around eight per cent of the UK’s energy demand, UK ministers have stressed the demand can easily be met from other sources.

The First Minster has pointed to the long length of time it would take to expand North Sea oil and gas production, warning it would do nothing to help the immediate fuel issues.

Instead, Ms Sturgeon called for the Chancellor to announce “substantial and significant action” to “shield households” from rises to energy prices.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed that ramping up North Sea production was needed.

He said: “In Scotland we have the natural resources to protect our own supply and we have the resources to export to other countries to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

“We can protect Scottish jobs and we can protect our energy supply.

“Surely now is the time to maximise oil and gas production in Scotland, using the energy on our own doorstep.”

But the First Minister refuted the suggestion for the UK to increase production of fossil fuels.

She said: “I think it’s important that we understand the realities here. Even if we were to put to one side he environmental considerations, given the timescales and the practicalities involved, it’s not credible to suggest that the short-term solution to this lies in increasing North Sea production.

“Existing fields in the North Sea are not currently operating under capacity. Expanding existing fields is possible but that would take months if not years and new fields take years if not decades to plan and develop.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “We shouldn’t go after solutions that might sound superficially attractive but don’t stand the scrutiny around the practicalities and the realities.

“In the short-term, what we must see in terms of rises in global prices is action from the Chancellor, substantial and significant action from the Chancellor to shield households across the UK from that impact.

“Medium to longer term, the action the world needs to take to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels is exactly the same action the world needs to take to address the climate emergency – we must accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable and low carbon energy.”

But Mr Ross insisted that “we have to maximise oil and gas production in Scotland at the moment to help with the crisis and the crisis going forward”.

He said that the SNP’s resistance to new North Sea oil and gas developments was "not a realistic solution”, warning “it will simply lead to more imports from other countries.”

Mr Ross added: “If the First Minister is not prepared to move on domestic oil and gas supply, then what are her alternatives?”

He highlighted that his party is keen for Scotland to “increase use of nuclear energy”, claiming “it’s low carbon and it’s safe”.

Mr Ross added: “Shouldn’t nuclear be in Scotland’s energy mix if we want to stop relying on Russian oil and gas and move to net zero?”

But the First Minister again rejected the solution. The SNP is against new nuclear power developments in Scotland under current technology. Although energy is largely reserved to the UK Government, the Scottish Government has an affective veto on new nuclear station though planning regulations.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Even if, and it’s not a position I support, we were to give the go-ahead to new nuclear energy today, it would be years if not decades before any of that came on stream. That’s the practical reality.”