- 23 Feb 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/00302
Date received: 26 January 2018
Date responded: 22 February 2018
(a) A copy of any pre-meeting briefing; confirmation of all people in attendance at all meetings; agendas for all meetings; notes or minutes taken and/or action points decided during all meetings; and any post meeting briefings in relation to all meetings between any Scottish Government Minister(s) and any representative(s) from Chevron or its subsidiaries during the period between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017
(b) Email correspondence between the Scottish Government and Chevron or its subsidiaries during the period between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2017
Annex B contains information relating to part (a) of your request. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide all of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections s.33(1)(b) (commercial interests and the economy) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information.
Part (b) of your request referred to email correspondence between the Scottish Government and Chevron during the period between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2017.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested to respond to part (b) of your request would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. There has been significant engagement across Scottish Government with the sector, Marine Scotland Science have a significant engagement with the sector relating to their involvement in the routine regulation of offshore oil and gas activities in the Scottish sector of the North Sea. As such the volume of emails relating to email correspondence is considerable and the time required to comply with your request will exceeded the cost limit.
Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.
You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. In order to reduce the cost of your request you may wish to consider being more specific. Is there a particular question that you require to be addressed? Or a particular interest in specific Scottish Government directorate's engagement with the oil and gas sector?
You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.
Reasons for not providng information
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie this relates to the names and contact numbers of junior Scottish Government officials, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.
An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the company with whom the Scottish Government has a subscription for the supply of proprietary information on the oil and gas sector. Disclosing this information would be likely to give competitors an advantage by disclosing commercially sensitive information which could significantly harm their commercial business.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which enter into, Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money and in protecting the commercial interests of companies who provide data services to the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House