EDINBURGH, Scotland, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Scotland is concerned about how low oil prices may impact North Sea operations, but is confident about future growth, the deputy first minister said Tuesday. The Scottish government said its economy is on pace to turn in its strongest performance in seven years as well as marking its second straight year of continuous growth. Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the labor market in particular was strong.
"Scotland is leading the way with the highest employment and economic activity rates and lowest unemployment rate of the home nations of the United Kingdom," he said in a statement.
Though fiscal year 2016, the government said it expects to see $7 billion in new infrastructure investment. Despite the mid-term growth expectations, the government said low oil prices may be a benefit in some economic sectors, but adds uncertainty to operations in the North Sea.
Brent crude oil prices, a global benchmark based on North Sea blends, was trading below the $60 mark early Tuesday. At that point, about 85 percent of new regional offshore developments are at risk of delays, energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie finds.
June oil prices about $100 gave Scottish independence seekers cause for elation. Scotland said it could draw on North Sea oil and gas revenues for economic vitality while drawing on renewable resources for power.
The independence bid failed in a September referendum.
While Edinburgh said it expects prices to recover next year, it said it may have to reform the economics surrounding North Sea operations in order to support long-term growth.