Oil ownership just a field of dreams

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John Baillie’s sardonic comment (Letters, 24 October) on the newly discovered North Sea oilfields betrays a common misapprehension: that an independent Scotland would automatically inherit all the oil north of the ­latitude of Berwick.

The claims in the SNP’s manifesto, Scotland’s Future, that an independent Scotland would have a right to around 95 per cent of North Sea oil is the greatest deceit in a fanciful document.

The rights to exploit North Sea oil and gas were allocated in the early 1960s, with ­Norway, the UK, Holland, Denmark and Germany all receiving a share.

Had Scotland been an ­independent country at that time it would no doubt have been awarded the substantial share the SNP currently lays claim to.

But it was not, and in the event of independence the clock could not be turned back 50 years.

An independent Scotland would need to negotiate its share of oil with the rest of the UK. It could make a legal claim, but it seems most ­improbable an international court would force the legal owner to surrender the vast bulk of its assets.

We do know in territorial disputes of this kind in an international court that ­geography is only one factor taken into consideration and is not necessarily the most important – as Spain discovered when it claimed ownership of Gibraltar because the Rock was right on its ­doorstep.

Paul Wright

Davidson’s Mains

Edinburgh

The effrontery of the SNP knows no bounds. In the light of the discovery of a new oil field it is calling for an apology from Chief ­Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander for “trying to mislead the people of Scotland” in relation to future oil revenues during the referendum campaign (your report, 24 October). 

By the same token, therefore, we look forward to an explanation from the SNP as to its own attempt to “mislead” the Scottish people by basing its forecast of oil revenues on a price of US £113 a barrel when it is currently trading at £30 less than that. No doubt the apology is in the pipeline!

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

The discovery of a new oil field, 150 miles off the Aberdeen coast, has sparked fresh claims of “scaremongering” by the No camp during the independence campaign.

I am confused.

On the one hand, the SNP-dominated Scottish Government wants all the fossil oil and gas it can get to balance the books.

However, its avowed intent is to close down coal-fired power plants and get 100 per cent of electricity from renewables of which ­unreliable, subsidised wind turbines would be a major source. It also wants to close down nuclear plants which have zero CO2 emissions.

The major source of ­emissions is not ­electricity (23 per cent) but transport and aircraft.

So Alex Salmond buys Prestwick Airport to increase the number of flights and demands that Scotland is ­allowed to reduce the air tax duty to boost flights from Scotland.

A lot more CO2 will be ­generated or has he belatedly realised that Scotland with 0.15 per cent of emissions cannot “save the planet” as he once believed?

Clark Cross

Springfield Road

Linlithgow

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