RISHI Sunak has been told to focus on “realising the massive renewables opportunity” in Scotland by one of the country’s most famous oil tycoons.

It came as Ian Wood, the billionaire chairman of ETZ Ltd, welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of funding for the carbon capture and storage (CCS) Acorn project at St Fergus, near Peterhead.

Wood noted that the Tories’ decision came only after “extensive efforts” to convince them to invest in the Scottish site – which was rejected during the initial round of funding in 2021.

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At the time, Wood joined voices from across the energy industry to call the UK Government’s decision a “blow to Scotland” and accuse the Conservatives of ignoring “crucial” elements of the Acorn project’s application.

On Monday, the billionaire founder of the Wood Group welcomed Sunak's CCS announcement.

He went on: “Vitally, there is also a huge opportunity for Scottish oil and gas firms, domestic supply chain companies, and our wider economy to harness the skills and expertise of our current workforce in the coming years and contribute significantly to meeting net zero targets.”

Wood (below) also welcomed the more controversial news that the UK Government would approve “hundreds, if not more” new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

He said it made “absolutely no sense to reduce our reliance on domestic oil and gas production only to increase carbon heavier imports from overseas and place in jeopardy tens of thousands of jobs which would be both economically and environmentally counterproductive”.

The National: Sir Ian Wood, author of the Government-commissioned Wood Report on the future of the North Sea oil and gas industry.

However, he urged the Conservatives not to overlook the “importance of lowering emissions and meeting net zero targets whilst enhancing the country’s energy security”.

Wood said: “Our firm focus remains on fully realising the massive renewables opportunity, particularly in offshore wind and green hydrogen.

“For example, a massive 17GW of agreed floating wind projects are within 100 nautical miles of Aberdeen accounting for 73% of all such projects in Scottish waters.

“This is, therefore, a sector in which our region has a natural competitive advantage to become global leaders and, given these technologies are not available at scale just now, we can only achieve this ambition if we protect the existing critical mass in jobs and expertise that will be so crucial in unlocking it.

"The importance of lowering emissions and meeting net zero targets whilst enhancing the country’s energy security cannot be overstated and it is clear the world-class energy sector across the North East of Scotland is fundamental to achieving these aims.”

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Sunak made the announcements on Tory energy policy during a visit to the St Fergus gas plant in Aberdeenshire, where he was joined by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

Funding for the carbon capture site has been welcomed across the political spectrum, with even the Greens saying the technology may have a role to play in the move to net zero.

But the plans to “max out” the North Sea’s oil and gas reserves have enraged campaigners, who say the UK Government is guilty of “climate change denial”.

In 2021, the International Energy Agency said that exploration and development of oil and gas fields would have to halt that year if the world was to remain within safe limits of heating and hit net zero by 2050.

But Tory energy minister Andrew Bowie has insisted that the UK can “max out our reserves in the North Sea” and still hit net zero by 2050.