EDINBURGH, Scotland, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- With a wholesale value of $2.4 trillion, oil and natural gas in the Scottish waters of the North Sea provide a key source of revenue, the first minister said.
The Scottish government estimates there are 24 billion barrels of oil, with a wholesale value of $2.4 trillion, to be recovered from the North Sea.
"The oil and gas sector is one of Scotland's biggest success stories and is one of the bedrocks of Scotland's economy," First Minister Alex Salmond said in a statement.
Last year, the government said it realized about $18.7 billion in investments from oil and natural gas companies working in the area. The value of the reserves to the regional economy is "massive," Salmond said.
"An independent Scotland will be able to face the difficult financial choices ahead from a stronger position than in the U.K. and use the full range of economic levers to support growth, boost revenues and deliver public services," he said.
Scotland plans a national referendum on independence from the United Kingdom in 2014. A November report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies in London said that, in the long term, an independent Scotland may face a "fiscal adjustment" should North Sea oil and gas revenues decline "as seems likely."