EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The Scottish government said it was accepting bids to tap into a $16 million fund for innovation in the oil and natural gas sector.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing invited industry leaders to apply for funding for projects aimed at improving the safety and future integrity of the oil and natural gas sector.
"We know that there is a great future in oil and gas and the sector is no stranger to innovation, with the great strides the industry has taken helping to secure our place at the lead of the global industry," he said in a statement.
Ewing described Scotland as a world leader in oil and natural gas. There may be around 24 billion recoverable barrels of oil and natural gas left in the North Sea, he said. The wholesale value estimated by the Scottish government would be around $2.4 trillion.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond this year announced plans to have a referendum on independence in 2014. His government maintains it could support itself financially in large part though oil and natural gas developments in the North Sea.