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   By a Newsnet reporter

The bright future ahead of Scotland’s oil and gas sector has been highlighted this week as the CEO of Oil & Gas UK made clear that he personally expects North Sea reserves to be higher than current estimates of 24 billion barrels.

During a conference at the University of Aberdeen on the politics of the oil and gas sector, Malcolm Webb made clear his personal view that the estimated 24 billion Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE) remaining in the waters off Scotland’s coast is an “underestimate”.

Mr Webb also noted that oil and gas was “by far” the most highly taxed of all UK industries.  The tax revenues currently go in their entirety to the UK Treasury.

The industry head criticised the UK government’s “awful political decisions”, which he described as “capricious”, and which have had a negative effect of the industry.  This is believed to be a reference to the one-off tax imposed on the industry last year by Chancellor George Osborne at the instigation of Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

However the chief of Oil & Gas UK praised the political consensus which has begun to emerge between the industry, the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and stressed that the industry should not become a “political football”.

On Scottish independence, Mr Webb said that he believed the oil and gas industry should adopt a “studied neutrality”, as the constitutional future of Scotland is a matter for the electorate, and said that the industry had a duty to live with whatever outcome results from next year’s independence referendum.

Contrary to the claims from anti-independence parties who have said that the independence debate is damaging to Scottish business, Mr Webb said that there is no evidence that the referendum campaign has had any negative effect on the oil and gas sector.

Mr Webb also confirmed the critical role that the oil and gas sector plays in the UK’s balance of payments and made clear that he does not believe that the reliance of an independent Scotland on oil and gas revenues would be “overwhelming”.

Commenting, SNP MSP Mark McDonald said:

“These measured and sensible comments from one of the key figures in the oil and gas sector could scarcely contrast more with the hyperbolic negativity towards the industry that has become the hallmark of the No campaign.

“The oil and gas industry clearly shares Malcolm Webb’s confidence in the future of the North Sea, with the sector investing a record £13 billion this year alone in improving production.

“With some £1.5 trillion in wholesale revenues remaining in these waters – and potentially much higher depending on oil prices – it is essential that Scotland gains the opportunity to use these resources to the benefit of people living here.

“With the powers of an independent Scotland we can use these resources to build a more prosperous Scotland, rather than squander the revenues to prop up the failures of Westminster Chancellors.

“Only a Yes vote in September 2014 will give us that opportunity to ensure that the benefits of the sector are felt in Scotland for generations to come.”

The comments from the CEO of Oil & Gas UK follows news this week that new estimates based on Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts shows that the total revenue still to come from Scotland’s oil and gas sector could be as high as £4 trillion.

OECD economists at the Paris based Organisation have forecast  that the price of a barrel of oil will rise to between $150 and $270 throughout the coming decade.  The OECD envisages a baseline value for a barrel of oil of $190 which, the new report will say, will lead to an independent Scotland benefiting to the tune of between £2.25 trillion and £4 trillion.

The Scottish government’s own estimates, based on a more conservative price for a barrel of oil of $100, suggests that there is at least £1.5 trillion worth of oil and gas still to be extracted.


# Big Eye 2013-05-09 01:19
This is all in sharp contrast to what Better Together would have us Scots believe.

Things are not going well in the Tory/Labour tearoom!
# Jimbo 2013-05-09 02:25
Malcolm Webb made clear his personal view that the estimated 24 billion Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE) remaining in the waters off Scotland’s coast is an “underestimate”.

Mr Webb said that there is no evidence that the referendum campaign has had any negative effect on the oil and gas sector.

Hah. What does he know? He’s only the CEO of Oil & Gas UK.

Mickey Moore, he’ll know better. He’s the expert who knows how worthless this commodity is. He’ll keep us right.
# Davy 2013-05-09 06:19
Damn damn damn, yet again more good news about gas & oil for Scotland, when will this bounty end ???

How will we ever survive this seemingly endless oil bonanza, is their no-one like ‘Westminster’ to take it off our hands. Damn.

Vote NO – get nothing, Vote YES – get a country.
# UpSpake 2013-05-09 07:00
Brent Crude yesterday = $104.40 a barrel. Two weeks ago = $ 99.97 a barrel.
Volatile Yes but in a good way. Furthermore the pound has gained 3 cents on the dollar during that time so expect prices at the pump to remain – stable.
1 litre yesterday in Trenton, New Jersey, = 51.1 pence per litre all taxes and road tax paid. Local garage here in Edinburgh = $2.11 a litre – go figure.
# GogsyBroon 2013-05-09 16:26
And in February it was $119 – volatility not so good….

You can’t compare the prices of fuel in the UK and US – it’s all down to a totally different tax structure. Have the SNP made any mention of dropping taxation on fuel? Err No…go figure!
# maisiedotts 2013-05-09 20:01
Quoting GogsyBroon:
Have the SNP made any mention of dropping taxation on fuel?

The high current UK taxation at the pump has been mentioned. I think if I were you I’d wait for the autumn White Paper.
# GogsyBroon 2013-05-10 10:41
Fanciful wishes I’d say – probably like much of the vaunted white paper!!
# maisiedotts 2013-05-10 10:57
Quoting GogsyBroon:
Fanciful wishes I’d say – probably like much of the vaunted white paper!!

Not sure what is fanciful about my post, the tax on petrol is a UK tax Scotland’s government do not at present have the power to reduce or raise it, that is a fact. As for the White Paper as neither you nor I have seen it and won’t until autumn, how can you express an opinion on it?
# bringiton 2013-05-09 20:33
Well,let’s see now….how long would it take for an independent Scotland to squander oil resources at the same rate as Westminster and get our economy into the same mess?
Given past “volatilty” it has taken Westminster around 30 years.
With our population of 5m (similar to Norway) using the same economic policies as Westminster,we should be totally broke in about 300 years time.
Of course,that assumes that we would be Stupid enough to contine with policies which are now pretty well discredited.
# Bob 2013-05-09 07:53
Aye we’er all doomed i tell you doomed.How will BBC spin this one.
YES 2014
# Macart 2013-05-09 08:05
Oh dang. 😀

So not only has the value of the oil been seriously underestimated, but also the amount? Quite seriously, I’m laughing in front of my screen right now. I thought we were well in pocket with the lowest of estimates, but we’re journeying into areas of ridiculous national wealth now. For a country of just over five million bods, this extra revenue could go a long way to repairing the economic and social carnage wrought by Westminster in the past four decades.

# Mei 2013-05-09 10:47
What is £4 Trillion divided by 5.25 Million?
# Macart 2013-05-09 11:00
Oh wait now…….. thumbs……… toes……. abacus…….


A lot. 🙂
# Davy 2013-05-09 11:15
Quoting Mei:
What is £4 Trillion divided by 5.25 Million?

LOTS & LOTS of “smarties”, damn that oil volitilty.
# Leswil 2013-05-09 09:40
Oh hell,a bigger burden to bear!
# Dundonian West 2013-05-09 11:30
This and the OECD upgraded figures must have been on BBC Scotland TV News—-did I miss it?
# ButeHouse 2013-05-09 11:52
When the Unionists talked about Oil Price volatility they didn’t say the price would keep going UP AND UP AND UP AND UP.

Maybe I misread their PropagPress Releases but I got the distinct impression that Oil was on a downward slide – silly me and I’m supposed to know about these things.

As most of the price of petrol is WESTMINSTER TAX our Independent Government will be able to reduce that price of Tax and therefore the price of petrol even as the price of a barrel of Oil soars towards and indeed above $150 a barrel from around 2016/17 – they’ll make up the difference selling at the market price to England and others e.g. India and China.

So it’s goodbye UK, goodbye FOOD BANKS and hello decent jobs, decent wages, decent pensions, decent health service and altogether a more decent and fairer society.

# GogsyBroon 2013-05-09 15:03
Oil price is volatile – it’s lost 12% in the last 3 months – perhaps you need to follow it a bit more closely.

The duty on fuel is a huge proportion of the cost at the pump however much of this goes to funding the bloated public sector and the huge welfare bill in Scotland. But what you Nats forget is that the SNP have never indicated that they would drop this level of tax nor the level of offshore taxation – so don’t think it will get any cheaper post independence. Then again the Nats have never given any details of taxation post independence so won’t be able to claim people will be better off. More likely most will be worse off as tax rises to fund Salmonds socialist utopia.
# snowthistle 2013-05-09 18:19
If you look at oil prices over a longer timescale you get a clearer picture of the trend.
Public spending as a share of GDP was 42.7% in Scotland 2011/12 compared with 45.5% in the UK.

After a vote for independence in 2014 we will hold elections in 2016. The SNP may win, they may not, we do not know at the moment. personally I wouldn’t mind paying higher taxes for better services, the key would be value for money.
# Breeks 2013-05-09 18:57
It’s you who’s missing the point GogsyBroon.

Independence means our own elected Government in Scotland decides how our revenue is spent. If that’s a socialist utopia, then it’ll be a socialist utopia which we’ll have elected.

I’m not voting YES just to be a few quid better off or worse off, or to save a tenner on a tank of petrol, but because I want to see my own country being run properly for the common good and welfare of it’s people; ALL of it’s people.

It isn’t the oil that matters. It’s the management in charge of our country. I feel ashamed that Scotland has nothing to show for 40 years of North Sea Oil production when our cousins in Norway have amassed a fantastic reserve to spread their oil bonanza across countless generations.

YES is our chance to change the destiny of Scotland, and steer it away from the poverty and misery which Westminster lacks the wisdom to avoid.
# maisiedotts 2013-05-09 19:24
Quoting GogsyBroon:
But what you Nats forget is that the SNP >snip< Then again the Nats >snip< More likely most will be worse off as tax rises to fund Salmonds socialist utopia.

Well I’m not a NAT I do however contribute to this site and want an independent Scotland, y’know one where we get the government we vote for, one which makes its own decisions for its own people. Whatever happens after a YES vote we will know is what the people of Scotland – no matter what their political leanings – have voted for. Independence is about us all making our decision not Alex Salmond and I trust the people of Scotland to make that decision, don’t you?
# Macart 2013-05-09 20:33
Well maisie, you never know maybe Mr Broon is right? I’m sure his reasoning is perfectly sound. However Dana, Statoil, BP, Shell, Oil & Gas UK, SCDI, OECD, Hume Institute and of course the Scottish Government all beg to differ. As do one or two bods on this very thread who may have some experience of the oil industry. Oh and did I forget to mention recent licences bought by the Chinese as well?

No one and I do mean no one invests that heavily in a losing bet. Always follow the money. Of course the other option is to believe George Osborne (sterling track record in office), Alistair Darling (ditto and least said the better) Michael Moore and Danny Alexander (no axes to grind there then). But you’re right its not the oil its the responsible management and care of all our resources which really matters and that includes our most valuable asset, our people.
# GogsyBroon 2013-05-10 06:09
You all miss the point – oil revenue is not the panacea promised by the SNP (which has hijacked the separatist viewpoint to the point of being synonymous ). Basing an economy predominately upon a volatile revenue source does not make a prudent move. If budgeting was done on a conservative basis (per say OBR figures) then you could have a surplus to store for the future if predictions prove correct. If you use the SNP forecasts then you could end up at the doors of the IMF pretty fast.whilst the long term Brent price has increased it is still subject to shocks – itwas $40 less than 3 years ago after falling from $140. There is lots of investment in the north Sea because companies do not believe independence will happen. If it does, and the SNP change the tax regime then that will likely stop pretty quickly.
# snowthistle 2013-05-10 08:37
I would hope that oil revenues would be used to further diversify the Scottish economy.
While oil revenues make up a large chunk of the Scottish economy we do have other industries such as food and drink, tourism, fishing, life sciences, renewable energy. We can build on these things and offer opportunities to our young people here in Scotland so that our children and grandchildren do not have to leave.
When you look at the most populous area of the UK, the south east, you see that it is heavily reliant on finance, which is also volatile, so this issue doesn’t help much in making up one’s mind about indy.
# Breeks 2013-05-10 09:20
Gogsy the volatility of oil price is nothing new. Even the 1975 McCrone Report acknowledges that oil prices vary, it isn’t a new phenomenon, but it didn’t fundamentally alter his predictions for an independent Scottish Economy. Look at Norway – Q.E.D.

So whom should we trust? The UK which has squandered our wealth for 40 years and left us nothing to show for it? Or Norway’s dream come true; a buoyant future for their kids and their kid’s kids for centuries to come? That’s the very future Gavin McCrone saw for Scotland in 1975, oil price volatility included, but the difference is Scotland’s dream wasn’t allowed to come true.

It isn’t about the oil, it’s about Scotland having a government that isn’t as selfish & mind numbingly stupid as the one we’re accustomed to seeing in Westminster. It changes colour from time to time but it learns nothing from one selfish generation to the next.

Let us be rid of these fools and govern ourselves.
# GogsyBroon 2013-05-10 09:36
But the opportunity to set up a sovereign wealth fund akin to Norway has passed. The North Sea is in decline – peak production was in 1999. Despite the potential remaining, it is irrefutable that the basin is in decline. Any new discoveries and developments will slow the devcline but not reverse it. I note that there is no comment on the potential cost of decommissioning – this could cost an independent Scotland billions. Furthermore, the resources left may never be exploited if vast investment is not made in the ageing infrastructure. Any government in an independent Scotland would have to introduce incentives to keep these open – as the small satellite fields are sub commercial without it.
# Breeks 2013-05-10 11:38
Whether our oil revenue is worth nothing to us, or worth a fraction of what it might have been, or actually does facilitate an oil fund to be set up, the fact we do not have an oil fund already is down to Westminster’s incompetence. We are the only oil producing Nation which doesn’t already have one.

I would trust a Scottish Government to do much more for it’s people with a shrinking resource than a profligate Westminster can manage with a glut in production over 40 years. It has done truly incalculable damage to Scotland’s future economy & wealth, and yet even now, Scotland can renew itself. We might yet draw some benefits from oil, but we have renewable new resources of wind and water; new industries which once established will keep on giving. We might aspire to top up our oil fund with surpluses from renewables; or choose hand it all over to Westminster and rob yet another generation of Scots to shore up a rotten & ungrateful UK.
# Macart 2013-05-10 09:39
Firstly Mr Osborne’s OBR, seriously? Their track record is as good as his. Next we haven’t missed your point, you’ve missed ours. The oil is great whether its $90 or $200 pb, but its only one string to the bow. The oil is merely A N Other resource. The fact that its being pronounced more valuable than first thought is good news, but its not the reason any of us here will be voting YES next year. We will be voting YES primarily because Westminster governance and politics have failed. Our UK two party FPTP system has failed. We are voting for more, not less democracy, for better management and prioritisation of all our resources, including our people. We’re voting to get shot of governance of the people and replacing it with governance for the people. And by the by, this referendum is neither about nor for the SNP. Its about where and how we want to be governed, whether its by a future Scottish Labour party, SNP or even (shudder) Scottish tory or Liberal. Big picture. 🙂
# maisiedotts 2013-05-10 09:40
Instead of going with the usual scaremongering drivel, how about giving us a POSITIVE case for the union? I voted YES to having our own parliament in 1979 and I have not seen anything positive in the way we have been governed from Westminster since then.

First Maggie, then Major followed by Blair’s New Labour which looked remarkably like Thatcher government. When are the people, the electorate the voters going to be listened to? That you see would be the positive case for the union that the NO campaign cannot address because they are in hock to the City and big business. The first duty of any government is to govern in the interests of its citizens – not to follow a path of self interest nor one where corporations get free labour, tax breaks and bail outs from the poorest, nor sell off ‘the family silver’ ie the assets of the country!

Enough of the drivel and scaremongering – you want to buy our votes? So what’s on offer? What’s the deal??
# EphemeralDeception 2013-05-10 12:36
“There is lots of investment in the north Sea because companies do not believe independence will happen.”

That is false. The investment is a function of the tax regime and funding available versus cost to extract.
Investment fell when the UK increased tax. Investment rose again when the UK Gov. did a U turn.

The same would be true with a Scottish Gov.

Decommissioning costs will be shared with UK for existing fields, to be agreed as part of negotiation on share of assets/liabs.

Note – North sea is in decline but west coast (though much smaller fields and more complex to extract) has not even started yet. The decline will be many decades.

20% of the 450,000 (ref: Oil and gas related jobs are in Greater London / SE. How many London oil jobs, central offices and related services (eg insurance) will move from London after indy?
# UpSpake 2013-05-09 11:56
When it becomes obvious to all and when the full extent of the oil available off the west coast, then this volatile commodity will become the ‘security’ that Scotland needs to float away from the perfidious influence of scaremongering Albion.
Pegging what would be an oil based currency to the trading oil currency would not insulate us from rising world commodity prices but would ensure that our pain was not made significantly worse by the obscene levels of tax on petrol levied by ‘broke’ England.
# km 2013-05-09 13:40
Seriously concerned about editorial policy on Newsnet. The headlines are all about Oil and Gas Reserves Greater than Forecast; French Company Creates 400 Jobs; Major Development for Offshore Wind Sector; oh, and there was an article in the P&J; the other day about possible creation of 2,000 jobs at Ardersier as a windfarm manufacturing centre:…/…

I look at BBC Scotland website, on the other hand, and all I get is Life Sentence for Murderer; Israel Slams Church Report; Man Jailed for Decades of Sex Abuse; Murder Accused Stole Meat Cleaver.

As Jack McConnell would say, we need to get a life.
# cjmasta 2013-05-09 13:48
OT, anyone watch FMQ`S today 9/5/13? I might be wrong but I think after watching the lunchtime news on BBC Scotland that they just used some editing to make it appear that AS was laughing at Lamonts Question on the NHS and then used one of him smirking after he sat down.
They`ve done it before and I think Ally Mcoist even refused to deal with them after they employed the same underhand tactics.
# GogsyBroon 2013-05-09 13:48
Interesting to see that there was no reporting of energy consultant Wood Mackenzies downgrade of probable development reserves from 2.2bn barrels in 2011 to 1.5bn barrels in 2013. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the extra resource talked about by O&G; UK will never be developed if an independent Scotland raised taxes offshore.
# Mei 2013-05-10 09:01
You are a famous North Briton and I claim my Gold Bar.
Give my love to Sarah and the kids.
# cuckooshoe 2013-05-10 14:00…/…

Norway Plans Rise in Taxes on Oil Entities
# maisiedotts 2013-05-10 15:46
O/T BTW have you seen this on the same site? It appears UK is stock piling plutonium (that other countries consider a liability) to the tune of 118 tonnes!!…/…
# Breeks 2013-05-09 14:14
I know Better Together’s 500 question stunt was thoroughly lampooned online, but one of the funnier questions I saw was:

“Will we have to cook our chips using lard in an independent Scotland since our oil is so volatile”?

I don’t think we’ll hear much about these 500 questions in the weeks ahead.

I probably don’t come in to contact with enough people to be sure about it, but I think the wider mood is changing, and people are running out of patience with gaffe prone Better Together. They’re becoming an outright joke, and every fresh initiative they roll out simply backfires or falls flat on it’s face. If ‘Better Together’ was a brand name on a product; the product, the image, and sales would all be in trouble.

Let’s not get complacent; YES is an unproven commodity and has yet to persuade a lot of people. But at least they have so far kept their powder dry and expectations remain high.
# maisiedotts 2013-05-09 15:04
The question I wanted to ask BT was “In an independent Scotland ..’will you stop your tickling Jock'” sadly nobody posted that one 😀
# cuckooshoe 2013-05-09 16:32
The headline should have said..

Oil and gas reserves may be greater than forecast warns industry chief

# Dee 2013-05-09 18:27
BBC in Scotland are still going heavy on the words ” Warning ” and ” Independence ” have to be mentioned in the first sentence, while they are reminding us each day of what we scots are incapable of doing..
# clootie 2013-05-09 19:11
I wish my fellow Scots could just sit in a few of the meetings taking place at present in every oil and gas company as they try to prioritise the opportunities.

Recruitment agencies are going crazy trying to recruit personnel.

The evidence is in front of you Scotland – please wake up befor you get taken to the cleaners once again.

Please don’t prove we are too stupid to take such a great opportunity for the generations to come.

Vote YES – We are a great nation please believe in yourself.
# maisiedotts 2013-05-09 21:53
O/T Sturgeon to go head to head with Moore on STV…/…
# WRH2 2013-05-09 22:22
Will this debate be accessible for those of us living in Michael Moore’s constituency who do not get STV? The whole of the Borders area, east to west, gets ITV which comes from Gateshead. Every now and then they remember that there might be some news on the Scottish side of the Border.
# bringiton 2013-05-09 22:51
I am afraid this is a chicken and egg situation.
Unless we vote Yes,you will,unfortunat  ely,continue to be treated as part of North Britain (as will the rest of us).
# WRH2 2013-05-09 23:16
bringiton, I can assure you I will be voting Yes even if I hear no debates. This will not affect my vote but any debates on the future of my country should be accessible to all residents of Scotland. I have found though that I can access STV items when the links have been given on NNS. Maybe NNS can help us Scottish Borderers out here!
# cuckooshoe 2013-05-10 17:34
I wonder if viewers living in the Scottish Borders can access STV player?

See if you can watch this Scotland Tonight recording..…/…

hope it works for you..
# Mei 2013-05-10 11:03
Border TV broadcasts to 250,000 Scots that’s 5% of the population of Scotland.
# graememcallan 2013-05-10 07:22
Vote “YES” and make Scottish history 😉 – vote “no” and make Scotland history 🙁 – your choice 😉
# Fungus 2013-05-10 09:25
@gogsybroon Oil is just a part of our economy, an important part obviously, but just a part. We have food and drink exports worth over $5billion a year, our renewable energy exports to the rest of the UK and the international community was over £5 billion in 2011.We are world leaders in life sciences and biotechnology, have a strong financial sector.
We don’t have all our eggs in the basket of spiv banking in London. We would prosper even if we didn’t have a drop of oil in our seas, the fact that we have vast quantities of the stuff is just the icing on the cake.
# kenneth_clark336 2013-05-10 11:18
A friend of mine who has worked in the oil industry for decades, and is off shore at the moment, emailed me telling me they can’t get the stuff out quickly enough!
# Adrian B 2013-05-10 12:43
With regard to those who stay in the Borders TV region. One option which might help some is to access STV via a Freesat box. Not an option available to all I know, but if it helps some then its worth mentioning.

When setting up, you should input a post code from central Scotland. The same applies to those with a Sky box and those with a modern TV with Freesat built into it.

Please note – you need to have a satellite dish for these options to work.
# michaelkav 2013-05-10 13:45
No oil left is getting old hat now. Even without it we punch above our weight. It is time NO told the truth that they are a bunch of English connected politicians whom rely on the Union for their income. Without the Union most of NO would loose income, contacts and power! Talk about one big COI.
# Dundonian West 2013-05-10 14:05
One of the consequences of BetterTogether.…/

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