HAVE you heard the one about the oil rich nation that didn’t set up an oil fund?

Well, get this – that country is now facing some of the highest gas prices in the world.

Sadly, this is no joke. Despite Scotland having a larger share of North Sea oil and gas than our friends in Norway, it is our Nordic cousins who have an oil fund worth £990 billion.

Under the stewardship of the UK, the wealth from Scotland’s vast natural resources has been frittered away.

Now these islands are engulfed in a catastrophic energy crisis. Energy companies are going out of business on almost a daily basis, while the UK Government steadfastly refuses to bail them out. That means ordinary folk will pay the price for the mismanagement of energy supplies.

A mismanagement that has led to a wholesale price of gas 250 percent higher today than it was in January.

That is bad news for smaller – often greener – companies with slim profit margins, and it is terrible news for consumers. The cheapest deals available today are 50 percent higher than a year ago.

This comes as ordinary people are being struck by a juggernaut of Tory austerity. The £20 uplift to Universal Credit cut, furlough support removed, and self-employment support ended – all the while inflation is up. Throw in increased energy prices and this winter some people will face the unthinkable choice between heating and eating.

That’s why I’m calling on UK ministers to use the tax windfall from the price of gas to support folk.

It’s why I’m highlighting energy advice and support available through Fife’s Healthy Heating and Poverty Partnership.

And it’s why I’m pushing the Scottish and UK government’s to support the extraction of oil and gas from the Cambo oilfield.

Why? Because while current gas prices are partly due to high global demand, they are also impacted by lower flows of natural gas into the UK from Norway and Russia. There’s an obvious solution – we should mobilise the remainder of oil and gas in the North Sea.

But some argue we should shut down the North Sea supply for environmental reasons. Not only would that exacerbate the current gas crisis and raise energy bills further, but it would also increase carbon emissions.

That’s because we would have to import liquefied petroleum gas which is twice as carbon intensive as North Sea gas. And lower supplies of foreign gas are, after all, a factor in the current crisis.

So, let’s extract our own natural gas, invest in carbon capture, and throw hydrogen into the mix. And if we turn to our own vast resources to stabilise the energy sector, let’s also set up a Norwegian-style oil fund while we’re at.