More needs to be done to get new investors

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Last week, I initiated a Commons debate on North Sea energy because North Tyneside relies heavily on providing goods and services to the industry.

The offshore oil and gas industry is a major national asset. But revenues plummeted last year thanks to low oil prices.

Given this bleak outlook, the government must encourage exploration and bringing new fields into production. I told the Commons that an inability to access capital to the tune of billions was the main reason for low exploration activity.

I urged a concerted effort on tax, regulation and cost to make the North Sea more attractive to investors.

Government should also encourage more contracts in Britain rather than overseas. Otherwise we face job losses, likely yard closures, and the permanent loss of domestic manufacturing skills.

The minister praised the north east’s significant expertise and emphasised the strategic importance of the industry.

She was light on detail because measures may be announced in next month’s budget.

My fingers are crossed but I am not holding my breath.

Getting the government to get a grip on this vital industry remains a priority.