Oil policy

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In his criticism of the Scottish Government’s economic plans in the event of independence, Ian Lakin (Letters, 28 August) makes great play of the current low oil prices.

He should recall that the SNP always advocated setting up an oil fund so that such fluctuations could be allowed for in the long term.

This was ignored by Westminster, which spent every penny of the oil revenues as if these were part of a normal tax stream, instead of a once-in-a-lifetime bonus. Its incompetent and profligate wasting of this golden opportunity is in stark contrast with the careful management of Norway’s oil reserves.

The fortunate Norwegians have the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund (about $800 billion) and a flourishing and expanding oil industry.

Their national oil company, Statoil, uses times when oil prices are low to purchase infrastructure so that they can benefit when prices recover, as they always do. Norway has no problems with the current low oil prices, and its investments will protect its economy for the foreseeable future.

Unlike all other major oil producers, the UK has no oil fund and no national oil company, because, for ideological reasons, Margaret Thatcher’s government sold off Britoil to its friends in BP for a knockdown price.

It is a tragedy that the likely outcome of the UK oil policy is that Scotland may be the only country in the world to produce massive amounts of oil and end up poorer.

James Duncan

Rattray Grove

Edinburgh

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