Half of Scots say oil finds are kept ‘secret’

ALMOST half of Scots believe the UK government is hiding North Sea oil discovered during the independence campaign, new research has found.

Sir Ian Wood says oil and gas reserves are overestimated. Picture: Jane Barlow

It follows recent reports that new fields off the west of Shetland had produced more encouraging results than first thought.

A total of 42 per cent believe it is “probably true” that new reserves of oil have been found in Scotland that the UK Government is “keeping secret” – while the same proportion believe this claim is false.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The poll, commissioned by website BuzzFeed and carried out by YouGov, follows a recent trip by David Cameron to Shetland and claims that exploration in fields to the west of the islands gleaned promising results.

Sir Ian Wood says oil and gas reserves are overestimated. Picture: Jane Barlow

Nationalists believe that Scotland is on the verge of a second oil boom, saying the Clair Ridge field off the west coast of Shetland contains an estimated 8 billion barrels of oil, with an estimated 120,000 barrels per day production at peak levels.

The total investment of £4.5 billion is the equivalent of nine Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, according to Business for Scotland, while the value of the field is almost £300 billion.

In the 1970s, when it was identified, it was outwith the reach of drilling companies, but with advances in technology deeper drilling is now possible, which would boost tax revenues. Other fields to the west of Shetland and the Atlantic are predicted to overtake North Sea production in future decades.

Scotland’s future oil and gas reserves have been at the centre of the independence debate. North Sea magnate Sir Ian Wood claimed that the Scottish Government has overestimated the amount of oil and gas remaining in the North Sea by 40 to 60 per cent.

But the Scottish Government insist that up to 24 billion barrels of oil and gas could yet be recovered from the North Sea, meaning the industry could still be viable well beyond 2050.