Future of North Sea oil in Opec’s hands

Routinely we are told North Sea oil isn’t competitive because “costs and taxes are too high” (your report, 10 March).

Of course it can’t be gainsaid the tax regime for the North Sea is needlessly bureaucratic.

However, as was pointed out recently the North Sea is paying out little in oil taxes.

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Moreover, it is unlikely, despite cuts in pay, that costs can be driven down to global levels. Consider for example competing with Saudi oil with costs reported to be $6-8 a barrel. Also, for a variety of reasons, the world is producing record amounts of oil and gas. What can the Scottish energy minister do as the North Sea competes with global oil producers?

Arguably the future of the North Sea may really depend on the political machinations within Opec.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk


In his article on Scotland’s 
finances (Perspective, 10 March) Peter Jones rightly says we should compare total Scottish and UK Government spending in Scotland with “the total amount of taxes raised in Scotland”. What I would be interested to know is how this latter figure is compiled. For instance, there are many employees who are paid from organisations in England but who live and work entirely in Scotland and, similarly, pensioners paid through offices there.

Is the income tax deducted from them included?

As regards corporation tax and VAT, many companies which carry on business and earn profits in Scotland have their registered office in England. Do the GERS figures take account of this and, if so, are precise figures available? Some information from an expert non-partisan source would be helpful.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive


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