9 April 2013

MP & MSP Slate Oil Fund Missed Opportunity


The UK stands alone as the only country with major oil and gas reserves with no oil fund – highlighted in a table of countries with Sovereign Wealth Funds, demonstrating just how badly wrong Westminster has got it in not investing for the future.

There are 35 Sovereign Wealth Funds based on oil and gas resources – illustrating that it is the norm for countries with major oil and gas resources to create a fund for long-term benefit.

Quotes from past UK Energy Ministers, such as Tony Benn and the late Malcolm Wicks, underline that Westminster made a mistake in not setting up an oil fund.

Tony Benn has said that the oil wealth was “wasted”, while former Labour chancellor Denis Healey wrote in his memoirs that the UK "would have been bankrupt without North Sea oil".

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

"This table shows the missed opportunity for Scotland almost four decades ago when Westminster failed to invest in an oil fund.

“Unfortunately Scotland isn’t on that table – but there is still more value to come from the North Sea than has been extracted to date, and with a Yes vote in next September's referendum we can make our oil wealth work for Scotland's long-term benefit.

“We hear the No campaign’s hypocritical rhetoric on Scotland’s oil and gas – they are relentlessly negative about the worth of Scotland controlling our own resources, but praise the levels of investment and value of the North Sea industry to the Westminster exchequer for decades to come.

“Last week the UK government had to admit that North Sea oil and gas is an expanding industry, with Vince Cable conceding that ‘Oil and Gas UK expect production to expand’.

“There is a real sense of déjà vu when we think back to the 1970s when Westminster buried the McCrone report – a report that oil and gas would turn Scotland into one of the wealthiest and most financially secure nations on the planet – at the same time as telling us that revenues would be lower than expected and would soon run out.”

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Oil and gas has brought jobs and prosperity to Scotland, but not nearly as much as would be by Scotland accessing the tax revenues. There is still huge potential to be unlocked in North Sea oil and gas but, as history has taught us, this can only be done when Scotland is in charge. We cannot trust Westminster again.

“Scotland's finances are consistently stronger than the UK's, over half of the North Sea tax revenues are still to come, and our oil and gas assets are worth up to £1.5 trillion.

"The SNP Government estimates of oil revenue are consistent with those of the industry, and there is now no doubt that there is a renewed North Sea oil and gas boom underway.

"A Yes vote on September 18, 2014 gives Scotland the opportunity to make the next four decades of oil and gas work for our country and for future generations."

Stewart Stevenson
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