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MSP apologises after denying North Sea jobs crisis in Holyrood debate

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson made the controversial remarks during a debate on Tuesday.

Dennis Robertson: Apology after denying jobs crisis. STV

A politician who denied the oil and gas sector is in crisis despite more than 65,000 people losing their jobs in an industry-wide downturn has apologised.

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson made the controversial remark during a debate in Holyrood on Tuesday.

The Aberdeenshire West MSP also incorrectly claimed the UK was “extracting more oil than ever before from the North Sea”.

He was responding to an accusation from Labour leader Kezia Dugdale that the SNP was “ignoring the jobs crisis in the North Sea”.

Mr Robertson, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Economy. Energy and Tourism Committee, said: “The member just mentioned a crisis in the jobs in the North Sea and oil.

“There is no crisis. We have just actually extracted more oil than ever before in the North Sea.

“We have the most skilled workforce in the North Sea and it is booming.”

On Monday, industry body Oil and Gas UK predicted UK production had risen by 7% over the course of 2015.

But despite forecasting the first rise in production in 15 years, experts warned further industry cuts are likely.

In addition to the 65,000 jobs lost in Britain, tens of thousands of oil and gas workers have been made redundant worldwide after the value a barrel of oil halved from a high of $110 in June 2014.

Mr Robertson apologised for his remarks on Wednesday following widespread criticism.

He said: “I think [my comments] surprised many people – I could have expressed myself much better.

“I have been a great supporter of oil and gas for many years and unfortunately we’ve had many people lose their jobs recently.

“I don’t like some of the negative language that is being used around the industry. We have to look at ways to sustain it.

“We have to get all the companies to work together more collaboratively and that’s why I don’t like the negative language.

“We have a good future – maybe not as good as it used to be – and I’d like to express a sincere apology to anyone I offended with my comments.”

Mr Robertson criticised the use of the word “crisis” in connection with the downturn, instead describing the situation as “extremely challenging”.

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