Scotland has a strong and diverse economy with many strengths, and the energy sector is an important part of this.
However, across the past four decades governments in Westminster have played down or even hidden the evidence of great wealth in Scotland’s sea bed. Evidence has gradually emerged to this effect, especially online.
These reports within the last year sit alongside the cover-up of the McCrone report, the admission by former Chancellor Denis Healey that offshore revenues were hidden from Scotland, and reports last week from Investors Chronicle that Westminster was once again underplaying the value of oil in the run-up to the referendum.
This has focused attention on the future of the sector, especially in light of David Cameron’s strangely under-publicised visit to Shetland.
The Clair Ridge Field
Off the West coast of Shetland is the Clair Ridge field. It contains an estimated 8 billion barrels of oil, with an estimated 120,000 barrels per day production at peak levels. To put this in perspective – the total stage two investment of £4.5 billion is the equivalent of nine Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The value of the field is almost £300 billion.
This is a single, yet highly significant field. In the 1970s, when it was identified, it was outwith the reach of drilling companies. With advances in technology deeper drilling is now possible, which will boost tax income for an independent Scotland. Other fields off to the West of Shetland and the Atlantic are predicted to overtake North Sea production in future decades.
New oil fields exceed expectations
There has been speculation that the Clair Ridge field “far exceeds expectations”. This would make Clair Ridge – which is already forecast to continue until 2050 – proof that offshore revenue will give Scotland extra revenue far into the 21st century. Already Hurricane Energy have reported that the Lancaster field has ‘well exceeded expectations‘.
Alongside this boost to the case for independence, it’s important to note that Scotland is a wealthy country without oil. In providing at least a £1 trillion asset, the sector does provide a massive financial bonus for an independent country.