PM to announce backing for underwater engineering hub in Aberdeen

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Theresa May is set to announce support for an underwater engineering base in Aberdeen to boost the oil and gas industries.

The Prime Minister will use her speech at the Scottish Conservative conference to back industry plans to build a multimillion-pound centre “to bring areas of excellence in underwater technology together”.

It is hoped the creation of an underwater hub will build on the country’s expertise in subsea robotics, remotely-operated vessels and help the oil and gas sector diversify away from fossil fuels.

Announcing the Government’s backing for a centre of excellence for the underwater industry, Mrs May is to tell the conference in Aberdeen: “It would bring areas of excellence in underwater technology together under a single commercial vision – creating jobs, boosting the local economy and cementing Aberdeen’s place as an energy hub for offshore and renewables.

“Our subsea engineering sector already supports tens of thousands of jobs – 60% of which are based here in Scotland.

“It would help established businesses thrive and create new opportunities as the world makes the shift towards clean growth. Supporting industry, helping us in the fight against climate change and creating new skilled jobs and opportunities for people to get on.”

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre
Theresa May will praise the oil and gas industries (Big Partnership/PA)

“The UK Government has done a lot to support the sector as the oil price has fluctuated over the last few years.

“Being a United Kingdom, with the world’s fifth largest economy, gives us the broad shoulders to do that.”

Companies will now be invited to submit business cases for the hub for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to review.

UK Government Business Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “As the UK continues to transition towards a low-carbon economy, the Global Underwater Engineering Hub can help the region rise to the challenge of this transition, helping to anchor the UK’s expert engineering supply chain here in the north east of Scotland.

“It will build on the UK’s position as a world-leader in underwater technology and skills, which can be exported around the globe in growing sectors like renewables and decommissioning.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell added: “Scotland is an exceptional place to do business and its engineering opportunities are world leading. The UK Government supports Scottish industry and that is why we are backing the underwater engineering hub in Aberdeen.

“The UK Government has shown time and again its commitment to the city’s oil and gas sector and now we are investing in the blue economy to ensure the region continues to prosper with jobs, investment and innovation.”

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said: “While we welcome any investment in developing subsea technology, this announcement pales into insignificance given the UK Government has fleeced the North Sea to the tune of £500 billion.

“The Prime Minister has this all the wrong way round. Her Treasury’s finances have been kept solvent over decades by the broad shoulders of the oil and gas sector – while during the downturn the Tories barely lifted a finger to help.”

She called on the Prime Minister to give Scotland full control over oil and gas and to stop Brexit.

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