Plenty of oil for a nation if used wisely
I read the article, “Scotland faces ‘stark choices’ if oil revenues fall away” (19 November) with interest, and while no-one would want to accuse the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), or report author David Phillips, of “scaremongering” or worse, it seems from the article that an examination of “the fiscal consequences for Scotland if it were to leave the UK” is both narrow and shallow.
The oil industry reports itself that it only forecasts oil recovery for 40 years in advance and, as your readers probably know, oil exploration and discovery of new fields in the North Sea continue.
The worst scenario of oil revenue only being available for 40 years to an independent Scotland would still result in Scotland being a wealthy country – Norway has been recovering oil for about that period and is the richest country in Europe!
While the report appears to concentrate solely on oil, it should be noted that while oil is Britain’s biggest export, the third biggest is Scotch whisky.
Revenue from oil, food and drink, and other products, would make Scotland the sixth richest nation on earth.
Clearly, when Scotland becomes independent, the rump UK would lose massive revenues.
I suspect from the report’s phrase, “in common with all countries (the rump UK included) it (Scotland) would have to make some uncomfortable choices”, that the IFS’s concern is only with the UK holding on to Scottish products and the UK’s loss of standing on the world stage.
Oil is a finite resource, and eventually some other form of energy has to replace it. But it can be used in the interim while we put other sources into place.
In the end the only almost infinite resource is renewable energy.
However, there are still many years of oil and gas reserves, which are being increased by techniques such as innovative water injection, a technology at which Scotland’s brilliant young scientists are at the forefront, and by deep exploration techniques in the areas to the north-west of Scotland.
The political argument is whether these reserves are used to finance Scotland’s commitment to better social care, and to build renewable programmes, or whether to continue with the status quo wherein the precious oil revenue is squandered on inefficient defence procurement and other Westminster government waste.
It is not complex mathematics to see that oil revenue lasts longer when shared among 5 million rather than 63 million people.
Norway has built a massive investment fund and Scotland could also use the remaining revenue, which is still significant, to do the same.
The IFS report scaremongers about the future, but if Scotland had an investment fund then it would still be able to generate further revenue when that from oil starts to decrease.
The amount of revenue has to be shared on geographic rather than population terms because that is how other countries do it.
The present generation has to decide whether it wants to invest for future generations or watch the remaining oil revenue disappear down the black hole that is Westminster.
Bruce D Skivington
Gairloch, Wester Ross
Yes, an independent Scotland may face “stark choices”.
So may most countries. Few, if any, would give up independence on that account.
The oil revenues are still likely to be substantial but they will not last forever – surely that is an argument for independence now rather than waiting till all have been spent.
Scotland’s potential for renewable energy generation appears far more valuable than oil and, provided we choose to take back our independence, will be ours to develop and use indefinitely.
We are also in the fortunate position of having rather a lot of water. That is a valuable asset which is in short supply in many other countries.
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