Tax changes which could free up billions of pounds for investment in the North Sea oil and gas industry have been announced by the UK government.

The oil industry had expressed concern that uncertainty surrounding the costs of scrapping old offshore platforms was hindering future investment.

The government had promised help in its last budget.

Consultations on plans to guarantee the long-term level of decommissioning tax relief began on Monday.

Both ministers and industry leaders have said it would provide a long-term boost for jobs.

Unlocking potential

A Treasury spokesman described the changes as a “further step in unlocking the potential of the UK’s oil and gas reserves”.

The industry body, Oil and Gas UK, welcomed the announcement.

A spokeswoman said that if the measures were implemented effectively, they would promote billions of pounds of long-term investment, create tens of thousands of jobs, and delay the process of scrapping offshore installations.