A survey by Aberdeen-based advisory firm True North has found 87 per cent of people in Scotland think the UK should aim to meet its demand for petroleum from domestic production.
Other findings suggest more than half of those polled (56 per cent) believe that energy companies operating in the North Sea have a positive impact on the UK economy.
This compares to 11 per cent who think they have a negative effect, and 33 per cent who didn’t know or felt the impact was neither good nor bad.
The poll was carried out by Survation, with 1,002 people aged 16 and over interviewed online across January 10 to 12.
The questionnaire also asked for views on the new Energy Profits Levy (EPL), the so-called ‘windfall tax’, which was recently introduced in the UK in response to energy giants racking up record profits due to volatility in the global market.
Almost one in six respondents (58 per cent) said the EPL was an ineffective measure for either reducing household power bills or encouraging energy companies to shift away from fossil fuels and move into renewables.
The poll results come just hours after Harbour Energy, the North Sea's biggest oil and gas producer, announced plans to cut jobs in Aberdeen, blaming the windfall tax for making the UK “a much riskier place to invest”.
Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice said: “Despite the current debate about climate change, most people in Scotland think that the energy industry in Scotland has had a positive impact on the UK and Scottish economies, and that, for so long as the UK continues to need oil and gas supplies, they are best sourced from within the UK rather than via imports. Indeed, this is one topic on which both nationalist and unionist supporters largely agree.”
True North managing partner Fergus Mutch, who was the SNP's head of communications and research in Holyrood until 2020, said the survey results highlighted some of the big dilemmas facing the country.
He said: “Our first True North issues poll of 2023 covers the political lay of the land, what Scotland thinks about delivery of public services, perceptions of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and key issues around energy policy.
“Its findings certainly throw up some challenges for both UK and Scottish governments, not least on how best to support an energy sector in transition through an ongoing crisis in global energy security.
“Nowhere is this approach facing more scrutiny than in the north-east of Scotland, and it’s interesting to note that this region’s key industries have nationwide backing as an economic force for good and in leading the delivery of our domestic energy requirements, despite the Scottish Government’s announcement of a presumption against new oil and gas exploration as part of its new energy strategy.
“We know that the UK Government’s windfall tax, however well-intentioned, is having a serious impact on investment decisions by energy firms at a time when certainty is needed. People across Scotland harbour doubts about its efficacy in lowering their household energy bills, or in terms of encouraging energy firms to move away from fossil fuels towards renewables.”