As Scotland prepares to decide whether to vote 'yes'
for independence, the North Sea oil and gas industry's economic
prospects have become something of a political football.
Today, a new report backed by the 'Yes' campaign claims the
industry's taxes could be worth over £600 billion. But other
experts have been quick to cast doubt on the findings.
Geologists think there's still plenty of oil and gas under the
North Sea. The problem is that companies have extracted most of the
easy-to-reach resources. Uncertainty around the fate of the
remaining oil and gas has created space for speculation over how
much the industry is worth.
That's where today's
report from consultancy N-56, founded by
a Yes campaign board member, fits in. It claims there could be
around 45 billion barrels of oil and gas remaining - almost double
previous estimates - worth £665 billion in tax receipts.
Conventional oil and gas
The North Sea's oil and gas reserves are becoming depleted, with
companies extracting fewer and fewer barrels each year. Experts
believe the industry could persist for
a few more decades, but only if companies are willing to
explore hard to reach spots.
Whether they will - or even can - access such resources is very
open to debate, however.