The boss of Ineos has warned that Scotland will never be able to become an independent country unless it embraces fracking.
Jim Ratcliffe, whose company own the Grangemouth refinery, says that if the Scottish Government bans the controversial drilling technique then the country will be unable to move from a deficit in its economy to a surplus.
He also accused Nicola Sturgeon of hypocrisy by accepting Ineos’ decision to import shale gas from the United States in order to save the Grangemouth refinery from closure.
The Scottish Government currently has a moratorium in place on fracking and is preparing a report on its long term environmental impact which is due by the end of the year.
He said: “If I look at Scotland as an independent state, the North Sea is not what it was. At $50 a barrel, the North Sea rally doesn’t make any money - not much money - and secondly there is no investment going on, nobody wants to invest in the North Sea at $50 a barrel because it is an expensive base.
“Personally, I don’t see how the numbers can work at the moment without shale because the North Sea isn’t generating any revenue for Scotland and (independence) needs to have a profit and loss account which is in the black and not in the red.”
Last month’s Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures revealed Scotland spent £14,8 billion more than it raised in 2015-16.
The deficit means Scotland would have to raise money through higher taxes or cuts to public spending.
Ineos had planned to shut down its Grangemouth refinery in 2013 following a dispute with staff however it reversed its decision and announced that it would be spending £300 million funding losses and converting the plant so that it could accept shale gas from the Unites States.