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Scottish independence: Sir Ian Wood warns on overestimated North Sea oil reserves



Scottish oil tycoon Ian Wood has challenged prosperity claims over the Scottish oil industry that ‘yes voters’ bring as an argument in favour of the country’s independence. Wood has said that Alex Salmond has pumped North Sea oil reserves by up to 60%, when in fact these will decline within a few decades.

Wood, chairman of the North Sea oil business Wood Group, has taken a stance against Scotland’s separation from the UK, a matter that will be decided in September’s referendum.

He has challenged Scottish government figures on North Sea oil reserves, which supporters of the independence say would help Scotland thrive.

While Scottish first minister Alex Salmond claims there are up to 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent still to be extracted in the region, Wood argues this figure is highly overestimated and said that the ‘best outcome’ would be 15 to 16.5 billion barrels left.

In an interview with he said, “I believe the debate should not be about nationalism, but growth and economic success, and the quality of life for citizens and all that goes with that.

“We now have a mature offshore oil and gas basin with depleting reserves, and even with everything possible being done to maximise recovery, we will be down to very low levels of production by 2050 – probably less than 250,000 barrels per day, about a sixth of our current level.

“It means our young voters must be fully aware that by the time they are middle aged, Scotland will have little offshore oil and gas production and this will seriously hit our economy, jobs, and public services.”

He added that for Scotland it would be uneconomic to leave the UK amid the shale gas debate.

With the Scottish basin having contributed significantly in the UK’s energy reserves over the last 40 years, a vote for independence would see us leaving the UK just after the discovery of very significant shale gas reserves in England, which could make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy requirements over the next 50 years,” he said.

Earlier this week, a Scottish business group claimed in a report that revenue from oil in the Scottish North Sea could be as high as £365 billion over the next few decades compared to the UK’s government estimates, but separate previous analysis by business advisory firm Deloitte found that investment in North Sea oil and gas has been falling due to changes in regulation.

Photo: Steven Straiton via flickr

Further reading:

Alex Salmond announces £20m local energy fund

Scottish North Sea’s oil reserves six times higher than estimated, business group says

Scotland to consider oil fund if voters say ‘yes’ to independence

Oil firms divided on possible impact of Scottish referendum

North Sea Oil sees investment dwindle under regulation change


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