We cannot go back to setting up a proper sizeable oil fund. Labour and the Tories spent the North Sea revenues as they came in – Labour to greater societal advantage; the Tories on unemployment benefits for those they put out of work.
But we can welcome the current increased sums proposed to be spent on getting as much as possible out of the remaining oil.
It is hard, however, to find out exactly what the fruitlessly repeated “potential wholesale value of £1.5 trillion” (finance secretary John Swinney, your report, 21 August) means to revenues.
Perhaps we can just compare that sum with the “estimated total expenditure of £1 trillion” for the 24 billion barrels thought to be accessible. Much of the “wholesale value” will of course accrue to the oil companies; they will sell the crude to the highest bidder.
So, allowing for other oil enterprise costs on top, such as currency hedging and tax accountants’ fees, there must be way way less than £500bn available for us to tax over a couple of decades or so.
From those diminished revenues must be deducted special field allowances and rig and platform decommissioning tax reliefs. Surely our Westminster and Holyrood financial experts can give us a realistic picture of possible real state income from the final milking of the oil fields, rather than the nebulous, fabulous generalities pushed at us repeatedly.
How many times in the next year will we see the £1.5 trillion value claim, I wonder?