Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“Sir Ian is of course entitled to his views in the debate on Scotland’s future – but there is a wealth of expert opinion on the huge scale of Scotland’s long-term oil and other energy reserves, and the opportunities which that will offer us as an independent country.
“The estimate of up to 24 billion barrels of oil remaining is the industry’s own projection – and Sir Ian’s own recent report also referenced the remaining reserves in the North Sea as being up to 24 billion barrels, meaning there is potentially as much still to come in value terms as has already been extracted.
“Sir Ian’s estimates would appear to be based on projections which only go as far as the year 2050, but which are themselves substantially higher than those of the OBR.
“Professor Sir Donald MacKay – one of the most respected experts on the industry – has said that the OBR’s oil projections are ‘precisely wrong’ and that the UK Government’s figures are missing a ‘mountain of black gold’. That view is backed up by this week’s report from the impartial N-56 think tank, which has estimated that remaining oil revenues are several times those officially estimated.
“And Professor John Howell, the chair of petroleum geology at Aberdeen University, has said that there are at least 40 years of oil production in the pipeline, not even counting fields which may yet be discovered.
“Oil is a bonus for an independent Scotland’s economy, and not the basis – our onshore tax revenues, excluding oil and gas, are roughly the same as those in the rest of the UK. As Standard & Poor’s have observed, even without North Sea oil and gas, Scotland is a wealthy country which, as an independent country, would qualify for their ‘highest economic assessment’.
“North Sea oil will be a fantastic asset for an independent Scotland for decades to come, and we propose a stable tax and regulatory regime for the sector to help maximise recovery and revenues – unlike the fragmented regime under successive Westminster Governments.”
Pictured is Fergus Ewing MSP, Energy Minister