Does the oil belong to Scotland?
Yes. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) says oil revenue should go to the country in whose waters it was discovered. Professor Alex Kemp, of the University of Aberdeen, says 90 per cent of UK oil lies in Scottish waters but we need to be independent to get the revenue it generates.
Isn’t the oil running out?
No. UK Oil and Gas, who represent companies working in the industry, say there are 24 billion barrels left in the North Sea. That is why they are investing record amounts. Even the UK Government have conceded it could last another 50 years.
How much is it worth?
Around £1.5trillion. This could rise as world demand pushes up prices. The International Monetary Fund’s research team have predicted world prices could double by 2022.
Will we be too dependent on oil if we choose independence?
Even without oil, Scotland’s wealth is around the same as the rest of the UK, according to official figures. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s say, even without oil, Scotland would be one of the most successful economies in the developed world. But the oil is a huge bonus and gives an independent Scotland a great head start.
What does that mean for me and my family?
We can create an oil fund by saving some of the tax – Norway, a country the same size as Scotland, has accumulated an oil fund of £500billion to be used for pensions, healthcare and investment in the future. The UK has failed to set up a fund and squandered our oil wealth.
But the UK Government say the Scottish Government have exaggerated the value of oil
They would say that, wouldn’t they? The highly respected Investors Chronicle magazine said the UK Government are underplaying the value of the North Sea oil because of the forthcoming referendum on independence.
Who else backs the Scottish Government?
Professor Sir Donald MacKay, the world’s foremost expert on oil prices, says the UK government are wrong and the Scottish Government are right. He said: “There is no hole in the Scottish Government’s oil predictions but there is a mountain of black gold missing from the UK Government’s.” The economic think tank N-56 said the figure for future tax revenues was six times more than the UK government claimed.
Is more oil being discovered?
All the time. This month Xcite Energy announced a major new oil find east of Shetland. The Bentley field will produce 700 million barrels over 35 years. The Clair Ridge Project to the west of Shetland is expected to produce 640 million barrels in the future. BP’s publicity video says Clair will make an enormous contribution to the UK economy for many years to come.
Why don’t I know this?
Good question. David Cameron made a secret visit to Shetland to see this important field. But the visit was hushed up along with the latest results of test drilling, which are rumoured to reveal even more oil.
Why would they bury a good news story?
A certain independence vote on September 18. It has even been suggested that workers on the field stand down till after the referendum.
Surely the UK Government are not involved in a cover up?
They have form. When oil was found in the 1970s, a report for ministers by the senior civil servant Gavin McCrone predicted an independent Scotland would be richer than Switzerland. That was kept secret for 30 years.
So they lied to us?
Denis Healey, the former Labour chancellor in the 1970s, admitted the value of oil was played down by Labour and Conservative governments to stop the Scots supporting independence.
How much did these lies cost us?
Around £300billion of oil tax revenue has gone straight to the London Exchequer since oil was discovered. Scotland didn’t receive a penny.
Anything else I should know?
Significant oil finds were made in the Clyde in the 1970s but the industry was blocked by the UK Ministry of Defence because they didn’t want anything interfering with nuclear submarines. Michael Heseltine, defence secretary at the time, admitted it this week.
Last weekend the Scottish Government created a taskforce to examine the potential of oil in the west. A Yes vote will mean the Ministry of Defence will no longer be able to block these developments.
What will independence change?
All the tax money from oil will stay in Scotland and be used for the good of the people who live here.