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Report questions Scottish oil plans

Nov. 19, 2012 at 9:17 AM

LONDON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- An independent Scotland could face long-term economic problems if North Sea oil and natural gas revenues decline, an audit said.

In September, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus 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 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 for 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.

An audit by the Institute of Fiscal Studies in London said that, in the short term, an independent Scotland wouldn't be much different from the United Kingdom when considering its share of oil and gas revenues generated from North Sea development.

"But over the longer run if, as seems likely, North Sea oil and gas revenues fall, an independent Scotland would face a bigger fiscal adjustment than the rest of the U.K.," the report said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Scottish government.

Edinburgh, apart from oil and natural gas reserves, has one of the most ambitious renewable energy strategies in the world. In a statement Monday, the country announced that offshore wind energy company Areva is committed to building a manufacturing site in Scotland.

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