Scottish independence: Sir Ian Wood issues warning over oil predictions

Sir Ian Wood Sir Ian Wood recently headed a major oil industry review

A leading oil industry figure has claimed that the Scottish government's predictions for North Sea oil recovery are up to 60% too high.

The figure of 24bn barrels is quoted in the White Paper as an estimate from industry body Oil and Gas UK.

But Sir Ian Wood estimated production would be down to a sixth of the current levels by 2050.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the comments did not cast doubt on "the huge scale" of energy reserves.

Sir Ian claimed there are about 15bn to 16.5bn barrels of recoverable oil left, and that the figure from the White Paper is 45% to 60% too high.

He believes that unless significant new discoveries are made, no more than 35 years of oil and gas production remain and that this must be taken into account in the economics of independence.

'No allegiance'

Sir Ian said: "The loss of significant offshore oil and gas tax revenues as the North Sea runs down will have a big impact on our economy, jobs and balance of payments, with significant increases in household energy bills - and a very adverse impact on the legacy for future generations in an independent Scotland."

He explained: "It means our young voters must be fully aware that by the time they are middle aged, Scotland will have little offshore oil and gas production and this will seriously hit our economy, jobs and public services.

"What's more, the rundown impact will begin to be felt by 2030, which is only 15 years from now."

Sir Ian added: "I have no allegiance to any party or campaign. I am proud to be both Scottish and British."

Sir Ian spoke to BBC Scotland as he said he had found himself "reluctantly drawn into the public debate" on independence following an interview for news site Energy Voice.

First Minister Alex Salmond has previously said the industry had "a strong and stable future in an independent Scotland".

Following Sir Ian's comments, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said there is "a wealth of expert opinion on the huge scale of Scotland's long-term oil and other energy reserves".

He added: "This is ultimately a debate about exactly how big Scotland's remaining oil reserves are, and most countries are not nearly lucky enough to be in that fortunate position.

"The estimate of up to 24bn barrels of oil remaining is the industry's own projection - and Sir Ian's own recent report also referenced the remaining reserves in the North Sea as being up to 24bn barrels, meaning there is potentially as much still to come in value terms as has already been extracted."

'Six times higher'

Earlier this week, a report said future North Sea oil and gas revenues could be six times higher than a UK economic watchdog had forecast.

The UK Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast North Sea revenues of £61.6bn between 2013/14 and 2040/41, but N-56 said the figure could be as high as £365bn, if a series of recommendations were implemented.

N-56 was founded by Dan Macdonald, who is a member of the advisory board for Yes Scotland, which is campaigning for independence.

A spokesman for the group said: "N-56 welcomes Sir Ian Wood's confirmation that recoverable oil is far higher than the OBR estimates, as set out in the N-56 report launched earlier this week."

Better Together leader Alistair Darling said: "Coming from such a respected internationally renowned expert on North Sea oil, this news fatally undermines what Alex Salmond has been saying about oil and completely vindicates our analysis.

"Sir Ian Wood's comments blow apart Alex Salmond's plans for funding schools and hospitals. It is devastating for his ridiculous claims on pensions and on jobs.

"Alex Salmond has acknowledged that Sir Ian Wood must be listened to when he is talking about North Sea oil."

Sir Ian Wood retired from his role as chairman of Aberdeen-based oil services firm Wood Group in 2012.

He had been chairman of the company since 1982 and served as its chief executive from 1967 to 2006.

Sir Ian recently headed a major review for the UK government looking at how oil recovery in the North Sea could be maximised.

Voters in Scotland go to the polls on Thursday, 18 September, when they will be asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

More on This Story

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    08:55: Assisted suicide

    Proposals to legalise assisted suicide are "unnecessary, unethical and uncontrollable", according to campaigners opposed to the move.

    Care Not Killing (CNK) has launched an online petition calling on MSPs to reject a bill that would allow people to obtain help in ending their life.

    Nurse and patient holding hands

    The Assisted Suicide Bill is backed by Green MSP Patrick Harvie on behalf of former independent MSP Margo MacDonald.

    Ms MacDonald died in April following a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

     
  2.  
    08:45: Today's papers

    The Scottish Sun and The Daily Record devote their front pages to Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska's black eye.

    Meanwhile, the Scottish Daily Mail leads with a story on the poor meals being provided on a tiny budget to Scottish hospital patients.

    Front pages 22 October

    Fancy a full-blown account of what the papers are saying? Read our round-up here.

     
  3.  
    08:44: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    In Dundee, the A972 Kingsway East is clear of that accident at Old Craigie Road.

    In Glasgow, it is very slow at Junction 2A - the Cambuslang Road junction of the Glasgow-bound M74 extension.

    For drivers in Dumbarton, delays of 20 minutes through the roadworks on A82 Stirling Road. At the Whitburn junction of the M8, it's looking stop/start eastbound.

    Ferries are looking much better than yesterday, but Stena Line has cancelled its 11:30 sailing from Cairnryan to Belfast.

     
  4.  
    08:40: Devolution talks Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    What do YOU want for Scotland? #SmithCommission Talking to @LesleyRiddoch on @BBCRadioScot #morningcall 0850

     
  5.  
    08:30: Ebola warning

    A global health expert is warning that the Ebola virus is "very likely" to come to Scotland.

    Dr Devi Sridhar said isolated cases are possible, with Aberdeen one of the places most at risk because of its prominence in the oil and gas industry.

    ebola

    Aberdeen councillor Barney Crockett told Good Morning Scotland: "I think we have to be appropriately concerned, but I don't think we have to make it a pressing worry to us.

    "The health service has made preparations. Our industries are used to having a worldwide approach into looking at a very careful analysis of risk. The two together, people in Scotland should take great heart from that."

     
  6.  
    08:25: Coming up... Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    As the Smith Commission meets to consider more powers for the Scottish Parliament, we're asking what do you want for Scotland?

    Also, with respect to the challenges and dilemmas of looking after someone with dementia: what comes first, care or dignity?

    The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295.

    You can listen live from 08:50 here.

     
  7.  
    08:17: High Street sales blow

    Scotland's high streets have suffered their poorest sales figures for September since records began.

    Official statistics show total sales dropped by 2.9% compared with September 2013.

    Sale sign on the High Street

    Food sales were down 2.4%, while non-food sales decreased by 3.3% on the previous year.

    Analysts blamed uncertainty over the independence referendum and unseasonably warm weather for people staying away from the shops.

    David Martin, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "September was a challenging month for retailers with a combination of factors contributing to the weakest sales performance since January 1999, excluding Easter distortions."

     
  8.  
    08:10: 'Hail of bullets' VC hero honoured

    A soldier who braved a hail of bullets to rescue wounded comrades during a World War One battle in France is being honoured in his home city of Glasgow.

    Pte Henry May received the Victoria Cross (VC) - the highest award for gallantry - for actions at La Boutillerie on 22 October 1914.

    Private May

    A paving stone in his memory will be unveiled outside the People's Palace.

    Stones are being laid in the home town of every UK soldier awarded the VC as part of World War One centenary events.

    The paving stone in memory of Bridgeton soldier Pte May will be unveiled on Wednesday by the city's Depute Lord Provost Gerry Leonard.

     
  9.  
    08:06: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    Global health expert says Scottish cases of Ebola "very likely" with Aberdeen one of the places most at risk. #bbcgms 0815

    BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme

    You can listen live to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme here.

     
  10.  
    08:03: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Glasgow M8: One lane blocked RTC Westbound at J13 M80 (Provan). Lane three (Of three) blocked just before the entry slip. Police en route.

    In Dundee, the A972 Kingsway East partially blocked; accident at Old Craigie Road/Pitkerro Road/Pitkerro Drive/Kingsway East. Police are in attendance.

     
  11.  
    08:02: Bolster political powers

    The Smith Commission, set up to consider more powers for the Scottish Parliament, is to hold its first full meeting later.

    Chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin will meet representatives of Scotland's main political parties at the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh.

    Scottish Parliament chamber at Holyrood

    The SNP, Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and the Scottish Green Party have all made devolution proposals.

    The five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament each have two representatives on the commission, which is expected to reach an agreement by 30 November.

    Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who campaigned against independence, have all promised further powers for Scotland in areas including taxation, the economy and employment.

     
  12.  
    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to Wednesday's edition of Scotland Live, as we bring you a comprehensive round-up of news, sport, travel and weather from now until 18:00.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.