EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The Scottish government said it was taking an assessment on offshore oil potential as a sign of economic advancement on the horizon.
Industry trade group Oil & Gas U.K. said Wednesday the offshore oil and natural gas industry generates more than $60 billion for the economy. Chief Executive Officer Malcomb Webb said there may be as much as 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent remaining offshore, which he said could contribute to "economic growth for decades to come."
Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said the report was a major vote of confidence for the offshore oil and gas industry.
"In time, the record levels of investment that we are currently seeing will raise production, which will see the sector continue to make a significant contribution to the public finances," he said in a statement Wednesday. "This latest report suggests that the industry will be active beyond 2050."
Scotland plans a referendum on independence next year. Swinney said early this year an independent Scotland would be able to sustain itself in part from the revenue generated from oil reserves.
Despite major investments offshore this year, the Oil & Gas U.K. report said production efficiency at existing oil fields in the North Sea "remains in worrying decline."