Oil is the basis of one of the most contentious arguments deployed in the Scottish independence debate. So it is significant that the chief executive of fuel giant BP has come out in favour of a No vote in the referendum. Bob Dudley has revealed his support for the Union staying together today.
Here is the statement from BP’s website:
BP Statement Regarding Scotland
Release date: 10 September 2014
Following statements made today by Sir Ian Wood regarding the North Sea, Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief executive said today:
“BP has been in the UK North Sea for 50 years and we hope to operate here for many years to come. However, the province is now mature and I believe Sir Ian Wood correctly assesses its future potential.
“The opportunities today are smaller and more challenging to develop than in the past. We also face the challenges of extending the productive life of existing assets and managing the future costs of decommissioning. Much of this activity requires fiscal support to be economic, and future long-term investments require fiscal stability and certainty.
“Our business invests for decades into the future. It is important our plans are based on a realistic view of the North Sea’s future potential and the challenges the industry faces in continuing to operate here.
“As a major investor in Scotland – now and into the future – BP believes that the future prospects for the North Sea are best served by maintaining the existing capacity and integrity of the United Kingdom.”
This undermines Alex Salmond’s repeated claims that oil would be a substantial source of revenue in Scotland, recently asserting that it would support the country “way beyond 2050”.
It is also a significant intervention because BP is a big employer in Scotland, with over 4,000 employees and contractors in the North Sea Region.
UPDATE: 16.40, 10 September 2014
I’ve just been in touch with the Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, who is also the government’s Scotland Secretary. He views Dudley’s intervention as being a “knock-out blow” to Salmond’s claims about oil. Here’s his comment:
The intervention of Sir Ian and Bob Dudley is devastating to the nationalists’ oil claims. These two industry experts, with years of experience in the North Sea, have set out the reality of declining oil reserves that we will face in the coming decades.
The oil industry has provided enormous benefits to the Isles and the country as a whole. As part of the United Kingdom, we are in a much stronger position to adapt the economy as we maximize oil recovery from the North Sea.
Meanwhile, the UK Government is committed to implementing the recommendations set out in the Wood Review, including basing a new Oil and Gas Authority in Aberdeen, cementing the North East of Scotland as the heart of the UK’s oil industry.