SCOTLAND’S production of oil and gas will “effectively end” in the next 20 years - and ministers will consider speeding this up, the Energy Secretary has said.

Michael Matheson outlined a new strategy that includes seeking views for “more robust climate compatibility” checks for oil and gas fields that are licensed but not developed, and a presumption of no new exploration in the North Sea.

The proposals clash with the UK Government which announced a new licensing round to allow exploration for fossil fuels in the North Sea in October, despite concerns from climate campaigners.

Matheson also warned Westminster must not be allowed to play the “same trick” of failing to invest tax revenues from the North Sea back into Scotland when it comes to the country’s renewable energy resources.

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The Scottish Government’s draft strategy says it aims to support the fastest possible just transition for the oil and gas sector to secure a “bright future” for a revitalised North Sea energy sector focused on renewables.

Matheson told MSPs it contained the first results of independent research on the future role of North Sea oil and gas in Scotland.

He said: “This work shows that, as an increasingly mature basin, production in the North Sea is expected to be around a third of 1999 levels by 2035 and less than 3% of the 1999 peak by 2050.

“That projection takes account of the remaining potential development in the North Sea and is without any political decision to reduce consumption due to the climate emergency.

The National: Energy Secretary Michael Matheson Energy Secretary Michael Matheson (Image: PA)

“This means that domestic production will effectively end within the next 20 years if we do nothing. The draft strategy is consulting on whether we should act faster than this.”

But he warned: “Whatever people’s position on the pace at which we move away from fossil fuels, a failure to act now to deliver a just transformation of our energy system would be to neglect our energy security, the future of our economy and risk the kind of damage to industrial communities we saw in the 1980s.”

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The key ambitions outlined in the strategy include producing at least 20 gigawatts (GW) of additional renewable energy capacity by 2030 – which Matheson said could generate around 50% of Scotland’s total energy demand.

There is also an aim for hydrogen to provide 5GW – or the equivalent of 15% of current energy needs – by that time, rising to 25GW hydrogen production capacity by 2045.

Scottish Tory energy spokesman Liam Kerr accused the Scottish Government of ignoring the UK Government’s £16billion North Sea Transition Deal and questioned whether a presumption against new exploration in the North Sea would mean “shutting the industry down prematurely”.

In response, Matheson said the Scottish Government was investing half a billion of pounds in Moray and the north-east of Scotland to support the transition.

He added: “That is the type of investment that will support the transition – what we have had repeatedly from Westminster governments is taking the tax revenue from oil and gas but not investing the money back into the north-east of Scotland and the rest of our economy.

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“What we can’t afford to let happen this time round with renewable energy is to allow that same trick to be played on the people of Scotland, to ensure the investment we see into our renewables sector gets the economic benefits that should be delivered here in Scotland.”

Matheson said he will be inviting the UK Government to join an energy transition delivery group to drive the plans forward.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “The science of climate change demands that North Sea oil and gas is phased out, this is the right thing to do for people and planet.

“Today’s Scotland’s energy strategy abandons the dogma of maximum economy recovery of oil and gas and sets a path to a renewable future that leaves no workers behind.

“The UK Government must follow Scotland’s lead.”