World Bulletin / News Desk
As much of Europe focuses on whether Scottish voters will choose to leave the U.K., a key aspect of the debate is the extent to which energy wealth would -- or would not -- sustain an independent country.
Scotland will vote in a country-wide referendum Thursday either to stay part of the U.K. or reclaim its independence after 307 years.
Most of the North Sea's oil and gas reserves lie north and east of Scotland, and those resources have continued to fuel the Scottish people's hopes of independence since their discovery in the 1960s.
Those oil fields have produced 42 billion barrels of oil since 1964, and that amounts to £1.1 trillion (approximately $1.8 trillion) of production up to now.
“Ninety-six percent of the oil income of U.K. comes from Scotland," said energy lawyer Hugh Fraser. "£1.1 trillion has been produced up to now. The U.K. treasury has received £330 billion from the taxation on the oil companies."
Recent figures show that 16.5 billion barrels are available for extraction and, with today’s exchange rate, another £1 trillion of revenues to come, according to Fraser, who is a partner in the Dubai-based law firm Andrew Kurth.
Figures show that the reserves are high and if used wisely, these resources could help in political affairs, said Fraser.
"If you compare Scotland with Norway, with similar energy sources and population, they have £500 billion of sovereign fund whereas the U.K. has nothing, apart from £1.4 trillion of national debt,” he said.
In 2013, of the 43 million tons of oil produced by the U.K., 40 million tons were contributed by Scotland. And half of the 32 million tons of natural gas production belonged to Scotland, according to the Scottish National Accounts Program, a multi-year project that deals with Scottish statistics.
According to experts, although the oil and gas is difficult to extract, the reserves are substantial, between 15 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent, which means possibly another 30 to 40 years of production.
Even though it seems like the resources are enough for Scotland's near future, young voters should keep in mind that by the time they are middle aged, there won't be many resources left, according to Sir Ian Wood, former Chief Executive of Wood Group, a Scotland-based international energy services company.
"Scotland will have little offshore oil and gas production and this will seriously hit our economy, jobs and public services," Wood wrote in an open letter. "What’s more, the rundown impact will begin to be felt by 2030, which is only 15 years from now."
The Chief Executive of BP, Bob Dudley, has warned of the uncertainties surrounding an independent Scotland's currency and said that Great Britain "ought to stay together."Last Mod: 15 Eylül 2014, 15:30