ALISTER Jack has said it is a “disgrace” that a Scottish Government minister would suggest that only those on the “hard right” support continued oil extraction in the North Sea.

Asked by Douglas Ross at the Scottish Affairs Committee on Monday whether he agreed with such comments, Jack pledged his support for continued oil extraction for Cambo and the wider industry.

Jack said abandoning the oil and gas sector would “kill the economy”, adding that this does not make him a “hard wing extremist”.

Ross asked: “If I could move my subject, Secretary of State, slightly to the oil and gas industry, it supports 100,000 jobs across Scotland, absolutely crucial.

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“How regularly do you in your role as Secretary of State and ministers from the Scotland office engage with the industry, the representative bodies, and given I assume you meet with them?

“Do you agree or I would hope disagree with the comments from one of Nicola Sturgeon’s ministers who said only hard right extremists support future drilling?

“What do you think of that message from the SNP Scottish government and their ministers?”

Jack said: “I think that remark is, as quoted, disgraceful. I support future drilling and I'm not a hard-right extremist, just to put that on record in case anyone wondered.

“As you know, we have an oil and gas industry that is in transition, and the key is transition, and we will get to net zero by 2050.

“But we need gas to make blue hydrogen and for other products we need oil.

"The idea that oil can suddenly be stopped would kill our economy.

“It's not all about driving combustion engines, by then the combustion engine will be a thing of the past. It may well be electricity, it may well be hydrogen, but it will be a thing of the past.

“But we will still need oil for the petrochemicals industry to produce many, many products that our economy relies on - not least instruments for the NHS."

“I still think it's better that we develop Cambo than we bring in that oil that I talked about from another country.

"That's less efficient. We should get it domestically and support jobs in the north east to support jobs in Shetland and other places.

"We should be, I think, clear that we support oil and gas but we support a responsible transition."

Last week while welcoming a decision by Shell to pull support for the Cambo oil field development, Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights, said: “The Greens have been very, very clear all through this debate, that new oil and gas extraction is not compatible with a serious response on climate.

“And it is remarkable how much the political landscape in Scotland has shifted.

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“Even just a year ago I would challenge repeatedly all of the other parties to drop their support for maximum oil and gas extraction. It was almost impossible to get them to engage with that debate, and none of them would drop that policy.

“Now, almost all of them have dropped it. The first minister came out against Cambo recently, and has challenged the idea that ongoing maximum oil and gas extraction can be sustainable.

Labour and Lib Dems have changed their position, and the Tories are now isolated.

“It is only the hard right who continue to deny the reality that, not only environment groups, but the International Energy Agency, are very clearly saying, that new oil and gas extraction is simply not compatible with preserving our life support system.”

The Scottish Government and Scottish Greens have been contacted for comment.