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By Andrew Barr
A report by Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce has found that UK Government policy has created uncertainty in the North Sea Oil industry, whilst the prospect of Scottish independence has not caused any widespread concern.
The report has revealed oil industry contractors and operators have had serious concerns over the UK fiscal regime, suggesting that tax policy has weakened competitiveness.

However, despite the negative impact of the Chancellor’s 2011 Budget on North Sea Oil which “lingers” over the industry, the report does express a degree of optimism with an increase in activity and demand for employment remaining strong.

Robert Collier, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Optimism in the sector is strong and the overall outlook is good, but this will only be realised if the right environment is put in place to allow the sector to flourish by removing the barriers to growth and building policy stability.”

The business survey for the first time included a question on the possible consequences of the 2014 independence referendum, with just over one third of participants indicating it was a factor in future planning.

Maureen Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, said that responsibility for offshore taxation should be transferred to Scotland.

She said: “This is an informative report that highlights the holes in the anti-independence parties’ claims about uncertainty caused by the independence referendum.

“The majority of companies polled said the referendum was of no concern – highlighting the extent of the scaremongering from opposition parties.

“In fact the opposite is true. It is the anti-independence parties’ damaging tax regime that is creating uncertainty and the taxation policies of successive Westminster Governments – Tory-Lib Dem and Labour – that have damaged the sector.

“This fiscal instability is the only uncertainty causing harm to the industry, not the independence referendum, as the AGCC report makes clear.

“This country has had three massive tax hits in the last nine years which is why Scotland needs the full powers of independence.

“This would allow us to tailor the North Sea tax and regulatory framework that will ensure extraction levels are maximised and support the industry fully – and to make the most of a trillion pound asset base, including the setting up of an oil fund.

“Investing a share of the returns from oil and gas production into an oil fund will continue to provide for future generations – instead of being squandered, as successive UK governments have done with Scotland's North Sea dividend.”

Mr Collier, of Chambers, added: “You’ve got 40 per cent saying they are uncertain about what’s going to happen and 55 per cent saying they don’t care because they are managing uncertainty all the time in global markets.

“I would suspect that those who are most concerned are the ones that are Aberdeen-based and UK-policy dependent.  The larger international companies are managing uncertainty across all their different assets and are likely to be less concerned because they know how to manage it.”

Gavin Brown, the Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesman, said: “The Scottish Government needs to listen to the industry on this issue because it is critical to the economic well-being of Scotland and the UK.

“It adds more weight to the argument that this referendum should be held sooner rather than later. That is the view of the majority of people and businesses, and now the oil and gas sector too.”

The report found the North Sea Oil industry outperforming the rest of the Scottish economy, with all proceeds from the vast natural resources bypassing Scotland and flowing directly into the UK Treasury.


# Louperdowg 2012-05-09 06:16
The Scotsman's headline is that 40% are concerned.

Obviously that trumps the 60% that aren't.

I presume that if they are that concerned about uncertainty, the oil companies will be pulling out of Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and, for good luck, the Falklands.
# UpSpake 2012-05-09 06:35
If the UK Treasury is on the face of it, hostile to the North Seal oil industry and see's it as a cash cow to be raided at will then perhaps it is the role of a Scots government with a view to operating an independent country to articualte the tax regeime that they would operate as an opposing view to Westminster. Conceptual taxation and ligislation would give the oil and other industries too, a clear idea of where Scotland would stand, free from Westminster interference. It matters not that we don't have a Treasury or a Chancellor - yet, we merely have to act like we do. Once the referendum yields a positive result, there will be no shocks for industry as Scotland seamlessly slides towards autonomy.
We could start to operate like this - tomorrow !.
# Jim Johnston 2012-05-09 08:23
You make a valid point UpSpake.
I believe what you suggest will be tabled asap when the Yes campaign is launched this month.

It would also be an excellent opportunity to re-establish a Scottish Treasury Department focused on Scotlands economy, independent of Westminster.
# tartanfever 2012-05-09 08:37
I'll do it Up Spake.

It will be slightly lower than what you are paying.

We promise not to mug you from one year to next with massive hikes in tax.

Hows that ?
# Macart 2012-05-09 07:08
Who knew?

Unknown tribes in the upper reaches of the Amazon could have seen this one coming. Its all about policy at the end of the day and big business only gets truly nervous when they don't trust those and such as those in charge of the purse strings. Looking at the present incumbent of eleven Downing Street, they must be bricking it. Referendums, civil wars, continental wars, corrupt dictatorships, you name it, they'll get round it and still sink a well. But you stick a numerically blind toff in a chancellors chair and they start getting nervous, that's the sound of profit margins committing sepuku.
# Robert Louis 2012-05-09 08:34

Sometimes it's quite eery how closely your views align with mine.

The point you make is such a valid one, it needs said again and again. Oil companies work in war torn parts of the world, regardless of regime, yet the anti independence brigade in Scotland and London want to make Scots believe a referendum on independence is somehow going to scare away investment.

The only thing scaring oil companies, is a remote and thoroughly inept Millionaire Chancellor sitting in a different country, surrounded by the likes of the former spokesperson of the cairngorms nation park, Danny Alexander, from whom he takes what is apparently called 'advice'.

The anti independence parties and the laughingly titled 'Scotsman' comic, should be ashamed of themselves trying to run Scotland down in this wholly deceptive and reprehensible way.
# Macart 2012-05-09 08:54
Got to agree RL, its all nonsense. We're asked to believe that oil companies will stop drilling for black gold and pull out/halt investment in Scottish waters because of a referendum???? A resource which countries have been invaded for and Westminster would have us believe that companies will walk away from billions of dollars of resource and investment already made? They must think we zip up the back.

As you point out there are only two things making those companies bean counters nervous right now, Messrs Osborne and Alexander.
# Old Smokey 2012-05-09 08:09
Just looked at the Scotsman online article, the usual twisted utterances attacking independence
# Leswil 2012-05-09 08:47
The UK government recently passed blocks for exploration. 28 of them if I am right (correct me if I am wrong).
This is a fair number at one time.
The truth is they are desperate to drain as much of our asset out, prior to the referendum and immediately after. If there is as we hope a YES vote then extraction of resources will reach fever pitch for them. So as to rob us of as much as they can get before settlement. Not surprising, as I feel they will go bust, when they can't get their sticky fingers on our resources.

Unless they are very lucky, and truth is they could be, with a potential huge gas field off Blackpool, and possibly huge oil finds off the Falklands.
However, with only 5,000,000+ people to care for WE won't worry about what they do.
# Robert Louis 2012-05-09 08:58
Indeed. I'd love them to find major alternative sources of oil, as then I know they would happily let Scotland get on with running its own affairs.

Whilst a quarter of UK corporation tax come from the oil and gas in the North sea, London will try their hardest to prevent the proper democratic choice for self determination made by the people of Scotland.

Ironically, down in the Falklands, the Government there has a formal agreement with London which allows the Falklands Government to keep the oil money. The same of course is NOT the case with Scotland which gets none of the money from the Scottish oil.
# Wee-Scamp 2012-05-09 10:08
Hang on folks.. Exploration licences are only the first step on a long journey to actual production. Assuming the licencees make a find this year it will be well beyond independence day before they start producing.
# xyz 2012-05-09 12:46
... but here's a Westminster plan: .. License exploration .. but pay those companies to claim there's nothing much to find .. just in time for indyref ...... They already sent in the submersibles to drill holes in the Aberdeen field wellhead ... or did I just imagine that? :)))

Only when we are independent can we get to the truth.
# Leswil 2012-05-10 13:22
There is a potential big gas find off Blackpool. However, what is less well known is that there is a big potential gas find in the Scottish borders. I am sure S?G know about it but so far very little said.
There is also a lot of coal methane gas across the Scottish central belt, drilling licences, I believe have been issued. But the truth is very little of Scottish land has been investigated for what it contains, perhaps something we should be investigating.
# Taighnamona 2012-05-09 08:54
None of the Scottish editions (so called) have put a positive spin on this. Anti independence apart, what impact do/will they have with this constant negativity, of talking Scotland down. Do we still have treason laws? This household no longer buys the herald, never bought the scotsman, the sun, express or the record. NNS is great but I really feel the Scottish government needs its own press to talk up for that can get into every household.
Interesting meeting Matheson had with the orange order prior to the election, agreeing to review Glasgow parades if labour got back in. OO quoted as saying they don't instruct their members how to vote, but they are a unionist organisation.
On a par is the news of contempt for Scottish regiments whose life's blood was used and abused by successive uk govts.
What does it take to move the apathetic to stand up for themselves and their many I talk to say " they're (politicians) all the same, what's the point".
# bigbuachaille 2012-05-09 09:27
Matheson's meeting with the Orange Order was closed down sharpish on Newsnicht last night. This is a profoundly concerning matter, as I read yesterday on NNS, but the post has been removed.
We do indeed need a way of getting the message out to people in a form with which they are familiar, ie an Independence newspaper. The party recently spent a lot of cash on leaflets for the elections. These are largely a waste of money and are often binned forthwith. I can think of no better use of Eddie Morgan's bequest and of the lottery winners' donation than a tabloid-style, independent news sheet, delivered to every home. Articles on independence-supporting celebs are indispensible: Iain Banks, Michael Fry, Billy Bragg, David Hayman, Eddi Reader, Irvine Welsh, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Frankie Boyle, David Greig, Tom Farmer, Alasdair Gray.................
We know full well that people will read this sort of accessible stuff and we need all their votes. Come on, SNP HQ, forget the leaflets, get a regular independence news sheet to every household.
# Cattanach69 2012-05-09 09:23
Gavin Brown the North Brit Tory finance spokesman clearly has some trouble grasping the English langauge as he doesn't understand the contents of the report. Well either that or he needs to go to specsavers!
# mealer 2012-05-09 09:25
Theoil industry,like industry in general,are becoming more comfortable with the idea of independence as time goes on.When they think about pros and cons of the idea,they find there is nothing to be afraid of.They tend to be pragmatic,and arent easily hoodwinked by doomster politicians and media.The same can be said for the general public in Scotland.
# bigbuachaille 2012-05-09 09:29
OT Angus Robertson has just tweeted: Moray Council has Tory/Ind administration after Labour refuses coalition with SNP.
# bigbuachaille 2012-05-09 09:42
Matheson and the OO in today's Herald!!!! So it must be true.
# Will C 2012-05-09 09:46
I really hope the SNP pick up on this story of Matheson and the oo, it certainly looks like that promises were made in return for votes.
# balgayboy 2012-05-09 10:37
Believe me the oil & gas industry will not have any problems or anxieties working with an industrialised, educated and democratic country like an Independent Scotland. Consider the regions of the world they presently profitably operate in e.g. West Africa, Papua New Guinea, East Russia, Bangladesh, China to name a few, I know I have worked in them all. Roll on 2014
# Old Smokey 2012-05-09 12:53
Slightly O/T
Not sure if anyone has seen this article from the Wall Street Jourmal's Marketwatch page
but makes interesting reading
'Making Scottish independence add up
Commentary: The country is neither skint nor subsidy junky'
# Dundonian West 2012-05-09 13:00
Yes Old Smokey,I've seen it----well worth a second read.
Won't find that on Reporting Scotland.
Incidentally----to all Virgin Cable users,if BBC Scotland News/politics is persona non grata in your home----easy --

key in 851 and 852,and both will take you direct to BBC London/England.
BBC1,BBC2 respectively.

BBC Scotland News/Politics smartly bipassed.
They won't like it,not one bit.
# Macart 2012-05-10 11:36
Welcome back NNS, for however long it lasts. Wha' Happen?
# scotswhahae 2012-05-10 11:41
Quoting Macart:
Welcome back NNS, for however long it lasts. Wha' Happen?

I have been trying since yesterday to access this site, I even tried calling family & friends to see if they could access it, thinking it might be something wrong with my NEW computer, but nobody could access it, what happened...
# Macart 2012-05-10 11:50
@ scotswhahae

I'm guessing server issues.
# Big Eye 2012-05-10 11:47
Perhaps it is time to start writing to those who advertise in the Scotsman pointing out that their bias and mis representation of the Scottish Government is creating and army of opponents who despise the failing rag and that their company/product might be damaged by being associated in a negative way.

I for one am fed up with the way the media seem to believe that they can act against Scotland's interests in this way and get away with it.

The Scotsman is already failing and is therefore vulnerable, I would of course be sorry for any innocents but there must be gie few left at the Scotsman.
# scotswhahae 2012-05-10 11:55
@Macart...Doing a search to find some answers I kept getting one that said it had been attacked, however there was NO definitive date, so goodness knows if it was referring to this occasion or another time....
Just glad to see it back, & I can enjoy my reads again..
# Macart 2012-05-10 12:25
@ scotswhahae


A day without Newsnet, is like a day without Killie pie. :)
# scotswhahae 2012-05-10 12:42
Quoting Macart:
@ scotswhahae


A day without Newsnet, is like a day without Killie pie. :)

lol or a FORFAR BRIDIE as MY case might be...
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-05-10 11:58
Hooray! You're back! I've missed you so much my conscience has reminded me I haven't donated for ages - just give me a wee minute to find my card....
# Robert Louis 2012-05-10 12:29

Which begs the obvious question - how many other votes have been 'accidentally' not counted.

The whole process of votes handling needs tightened up, and sorted out ASAP!
# Triangular Ears 2012-05-10 13:21
It's positively archaic how poorly voting is handled in these islands. Everyone is very keen to get new technology at the counting end, but don't worry about the security at the punter end, with respect to ballot boxes, marked up registers and postal votes.
# Leswil 2012-05-10 12:49
I am certain that Independent Scotland would run a fair tax system which would benefit both Scotland AND encourage further investment in our territorial waters.
I see that Scotland can and will be business friendly. Why?, because WE only have 5,000,000+ mouths to feed (rUK approx 60,000,000 ) and will be able to negotiate a sensible system that would benefit all. Without the drain of feeding the Westminster coffers.
The BIG problem for Westminster is JUST HOW they manage the huge drain on their finances without our money. I will say again, THEY WILL GO BUST!
# Davy 2012-05-10 12:55
Hello, nice to have you back.

And its even better watching AS on good form during FM's question time, as he batters that famous trio of "droppy, dopy and rennie" into their familar shape of the remains of last nights fish supper.
# Louperdowg 2012-05-10 13:00
Yep, good to see normal service resumed.

It was normal service for FMQs again, with the three stooges ploughing their furrow of negativity even deeper.

Its quite pathetic really.

Lamont even managed to taint the announcement of 90 jobs in Lewis with her bile.
# scottish_skier 2012-05-10 13:30
What happened to the Murdoch story? Is it me or has that generally disappeared now that the elections are over.

It has been so funny watching Labout think they did well in the council elections even though their first preference votes went down again (relative to 2011), as has been the trend since 1999...

SNP of course just did not get the same at council level due to the large vote for independents in areas where the SNP are very popular for holyrood (e.g highlands and islands).
# Louperdowg 2012-05-10 13:48
Murdoch, Trump and Soutar all got mentioned in desultory terms as soon as she had crossed the starting line!

Rennie tried to suggest that Alex Salmond should parrot Obama over gay rights because if it was "good enough for Obama..."

Its utterly cringeworthy.
# Dundonian West 2012-05-10 14:02
"Murdoch, Trump and Soutar all got mentioned in desultory terms as soon as she had crossed the starting line!"
I think she's a one 'policy' Leader----keep repeating it ad infinitum until we just may believe her.
Climbing into bed with the Tory's in Stirling.
What's she thinking about?
No shame,and she's Labour.
Red Tory,Blue Tory.
# bigbuachaille 2012-05-10 13:11
Normal service resumed. Well done!! Unfortunately it looks like "normal service" was the order of the day during the Local Elections for Glasgow City Council. 380 votes were "not included" for the Langside ward. Glenrothes revisited??
# proudscot 2012-05-10 13:15
Welcome back indeed, NNS. Like other posters on this site, I missed my daily diet of "real" news on the issues of the day in Scotland. Any explanation from the editing team as to what happened to put you off the net? Just curious. I hope it wasn't due to any form of "attack" by cybernasties of Britnat persuasion. As if they would ...
# westie7 2012-05-10 15:11
Every time this site has an "outage" I'm on the net looking to see which story is being hidden and prevented from being reported on here
# Angus 2012-05-10 13:44
Good to see you back NNS.
I missed my daily read.
Having worked in the oil industry for 23 years, its simple, no oil company will walk away from money, and theres plenty oil there yet.
I could imagine some of the management of BP and Shell will not be backing Independence, but then I ve worked with these people, upper class ex Royal Naval types and general British nationalists from England, they used to have their own lounges offshore where the locals, like myself, were not allowed in!
# Caadfael 2012-05-10 14:17
Thats pretty counter productive Angus, yes, I know the navy is very class riddled in contrast to the Sappers where many of the best officers were ex-rankers.
We had a "monthly moan" session instituted by an ex-ranker, Fred Poulter, who would take off his "pips" and listen to all the input he was given.
After a couple of months, several senior ranks disappeared, along with numerous cpls; result .. a happier more efficient plant troop .. a system many could do well to follow!
# ButeHouse 2012-05-10 14:55
Like many the NNS is my first port of call followed by Scotsman/Herald BBC, not necessarily in that order.

It's amazing how quickly NNS has established itself with the nationalist community, but it also seems to have a growing following from neutrals and soft unionists.

What needs to happen now is for NNS to be projected into the main-stream, via foreign media if necessary.

VOTE YES in 2014
# Robert Louis 2012-05-10 14:58
Shock! Horror!

Leading banker says independence referendum good for Scotland.

Is that the sound of Lamont, Rennie and Moore's chins collectively hitting the floor??
# Dundonian West 2012-05-10 15:04
"Is that the sound of Lamont, Rennie and Moore's chins collectively hitting the floor??"
Afraid not R L----they already know,but choose to ignore.
Some of their voters may be startled, and come on over!
# Angus 2012-05-10 15:00
Aye, I agree with you Caadfael.
The point I was making is that the likes of BP are very much a British (with a capital E for England company)and the management is generally of the mould of this company, most would nt even recognise that Scotland actually exists.
# daveniz 2012-05-10 15:22
o/t theres something corrupt about the Glasgow local elections james doran SNP msp has spotted 380 votes that weren't counted in the vote last week in one ward and I suspect its happened in others!
# pmcrek 2012-05-11 16:46
We should nationalise the industry anyway.

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