Alistair Darling MP, Chair of the Better Together campaign and Fergus Ewing MSP, Speaker for Yes Scotland today (Wednesday 3 September) held their own Scottish energy debate as part of their campaigns in Scotland’s Independence referendum.
The debate was held in Aberdeen before an invitation-only audience selected by the offshore industry trade association, Oil and Gas UK, whose chief executive Malcolm Webb, acted as chairman.
The debate also provided an opportunity to hear from representatives from either side of the conversation, and for the industry to table its questions to Darling and Ewing following their speeches.
Stephen Jones, Business Development Director, Oil & Gas UK, said: “Oil & Gas UK is – and will remain – neutral on the issue of Scottish independence as we believe this a matter for the voters of Scotland. We will respect the democratic outcome of their vote.
“The referendum is now only two weeks away, so this is a good opportunity for anyone in the oil and gas industry to hear directly from Yes Scotland and Better Together about their vision for Scotland’s future.”
“The oil and gas sector is the UK’s largest industrial investor, playing a crucial role in energy and is a key economic contributor, producing jobs, generating tax revenues and creating prosperity in all parts of the UK.
“The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is a mature basin, and as costs continue to rise, production falls and exploration remains in crisis, it is clear we need fundamental change in the way the industry is taxed and regulated if remaining oil and gas reserves from the region are to be realised.”
Alistair Darling commented:
“Oil and gas has been great for Scotland. It supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes vital tax revenue to pay for our schools and hospitals. There is no doubt that oil and gas is vital to the Scottish economy.
“The broad shoulders of the UK mean we are better placed to maximise what is left in the North Sea, spreading the cost across an economy of more than 63 million people in the UK rather than just five million in Scotland.”
Fergus Ewing commented:
“Independence offers Scotland’s oil and gas industry a huge opportunity to end the instability of the oil and gas fiscal regime, which has unfortunately become a hallmark of the UK’s mismanagement.
“There have been numerous changes to the fiscal regime over the years with the 2011 supplementary charge probably the most sudden and damaging to the industry.
“However it is clear that Westminster has not learned the lesson of its mistakes and this year we saw the sudden introduction of the change to the bareboat charter tax rules – increasing exploration costs just after Oil & Gas UK raised concerns about reduced exploration drilling, and brought in by Westminster despite widespread concern and opposition from the industry.
“As set out in Scotland’s Future, with the powers of independence, these sudden and damaging changes will end. We commit to provide long term stability and certainty, including a commitment to formal consultation on any future reforms. We will work to support and incentivise production and provide efficient fiscal incentives that encourage exploration and help maximise recovery rates – for the benefit of the both the industry and the people of Scotland.”
Scottish Energy News/TV will netcast a video of today’s Scottish energy / independence debate later this week.