IN the year of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Michael Matheson will have his work cut out as he gets to grips with his new appointment as the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) launched a manifesto before the Holyrood election, laying out its main asks of the new government, urging it to champion the sector as “a key part of the energy mix and economy”, and to offer reassurance to the 102,000 people whose jobs the industry supports across Scotland.

Now the representative body of the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector has said a homegrown transition to net zero must be at the heart of the new Scottish Government’s agenda.

Jenny Stanning, OGUK’s external relations director, said they looked forward to “shining a light” on what was a changing industry.

“As the eyes of the world turn to Scotland in the year of COP26, we have an opportunity to show the world how oil and gas producing countries can fairly move towards a lower carbon future,” said Stanning.

“A homegrown energy transition must rank high on the Scottish Government’s agenda.

“With political support behind a fair transition, it’s more important than ever that the Scottish Government continues to work with our industry, to put our people, jobs and communities at the heart of coronavirus recovery plans.

“Meaningful engagement with the people and places which have essential energy expertise will increase our chance of success, and OGUK looks forward to shining a light on our changing industry as we welcome new and returning Cabinet members.”

Energy giant BP has already launched a recruitment campaign for people to take forward their ambitions in the clean energy field.

Thousands of employees have left the company as part of a wider restructuring, but now they want to fill 100 offshore wind jobs in the UK and US – a figure that could be set to double by the time COP26 convenes in November.

In an interview, the senior vice-president of people and culture for BP’s gas and low-carbon business, spelled out their green ambitions.

“This is the first step in terms of building our capability in this space,” said Mikel Jauregi.

“We do have ambitions to grow our gigawatts in offshore wind, and so the increase in human resources associated to that ambition will increase.”

Producing less oil, generating more clean energy and cutting carbon emissions are all part of the company’s green ambitions, and last year it spent $1.1 billion (£780 million) on a stake in a US offshore wind project being run by Norwegian firm Equinor.

The company followed that in the Crown Estate seabed leasing round in England and Wales, paying £900m for three gigawatts of projects in the Irish Sea. It is also planning to bid in the ScotWind leasing round, due to end this summer.

Dev Sanyal, BP’s executive vice-president of gas and low carbon energy, said: “We were zero in offshore wind energy some six months ago.

“We now have 7.4 gigawatts gross in the world’s fastest growing market – the US – and in the world’s largest market, the UK.”