Best days of North Sea oil production ahead, says Alex Salmond

ALEX Salmond has hit back at warnings that Scotland’s oil revenues could soon drop, insisting that the best days of North Sea production remain ahead, and would allow an independent Scotland to prosper.

ALEX Salmond has hit back at warnings that Scotland’s oil revenues could soon drop, insisting that the best days of North Sea production remain ahead, and would allow an independent Scotland to prosper.

In a New Year message to the sector, the First Minister said the Scottish Government would continue to back oil and gas in the coming year, describing it as a “sunrise industry”.

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With an independent Scotland able to take 90 per cent of the UK’s total oil and gas resources for itself, he insisted the country would have the cash to “be able to face the difficult financial choices ahead from a stronger position than in the UK”.

His comments come two weeks after a leading think-tank, the Centre for Public Policy for the Regions, warned the value of North Sea oil to Scotland’s economy was becoming erratic and more difficult to predict.

However, Mr Salmond pointed to analysis by leading oil economist Professor Alex Kemp which, he said, “shows the Treasury will have taken £10 billion from Scotland’s North Sea in 2011-12 at a time when Scotland is facing the prospect of up to five more years of UK austerity.”

He added: “An independent Scotland will be able to face the difficult financial choices ahead from a stronger position than in the UK and use the full range of economic levers to support growth, boost revenues and deliver public services.”