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Scotland frets over oil, but posts economic gains

Scottish government boasts of steady economic growth, but expresses concerns about external factors like the low price of crude oil. File Photo by UPI/Maryam Rahmanian EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 21 (UPI) — The Scottish government said Friday it was on a streak of slow but steady economic growth, but cautioned risks remain from low oil prices and a weak Asia. Scotland reported growth of 0.6 percent during the first quarter of the year, which it said signaled one of the longest continuous streaks of growth since 2001. "Today’s State of the Economy report shows almost three years of uninterrupted growth," Deputy First Minister John Swinney said in a statement. "The most recent figures for this year show all main sectors of the economy recorded growth." 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 […]

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Scotland examines next steps after coal plant closure

The Scottish government blames British policies for pushing utility company to decide to close coal-powered plant next year. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 18 (UPI) — The Scottish government said Tuesday it was setting up a panel to look into the impact of the closure of the Longannet coal power plant, the country’s last. "ScottishPower’s decision to close Longannet in March 2016 is deeply regrettable and has far-reaching consequences for Scotland," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement. "This is a worrying time for Longannet workers, and the Scottish government and its agencies will do everything possible to support the 230 directly employed staff who will be affected by this announcement." The utility said the combination of high carbon taxes and high transmission charges meant it had to shut down the coal plant by next year. With 46 years in service, Longannet is the […]

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Scotland woos Chinese investors to energy sector

Scottish delegation in Beijing in an effort to draw Chinese investors to North Sea oil and gas sector. Photo by James Jones Jr./Shutterstock BEIJING, July 29 (UPI) — A Scottish delegation on an official trip to Beijing said they wanted to draw Chinese investors into the North Sea oil and natural gas sector. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led a delegation to Beijing , meeting with senior representatives from three of the largest Chinese oil companies. "I made it clear to management from the firms that Scotland wants to work with them and seize on the vast opportunities that remain in the North Sea," she said in a statement. "Scotland is open for business and investment and partnership working with firm from countries like China will further cement our industry reputation for international leadership." Data published last month by the Scottish government said the North Sea remains the largest […]

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Scotland expects North Sea production gains

Scottish government sees production of oil and natural gas increasing in North Sea basins. File photo by A.J. Sisco/UPI EDINBURGH, Scotland, June 25 (UPI) — Though the industry is in a downturn, the Scottish government said Thursday it expected production from the North Sea to increase by more than 10 percent. Data published by the Scottish government said the North Sea remains the largest oil producer and second largest natural gas producer in Europe. Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney said there’s "no disputing" the industry is depressed, but production is expected to increase by as much as 17 percent by 2019. "These figures show that considerable opportunities to extend production remain in the UKCS and that, properly supported, the industry can boost production over the next five years," Swinney said. A January report from analysis firm Wood Mackenzie said exploration activity in 2014 was off 18 percent from […]

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Scotland in a huff over wind energy subsidies

Scotland wants to British representatives to explain moves to lessen the government support for onshore wind energy developments. UPI/Pat Benic LONDON, June 24 (UPI) — The Scottish government said it wants the British energy secretary to come to its capital to explain the reasons behind a cut in wind energy subsidies. "The Scottish government has been clear that onshore wind should be able to compete with other technologies," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement Wednesday. London announced plans to end public subsidies for new onshore wind farms starting in April 2016. Last year, the $1.2 billion in government support helped onshore wind power generate 5 percent of total British electricity and bring the region closer to its climate change goals, the British government said. The Scottish government countered that London’s proposal was stacked against it as nearly 70 percent of the installed onshore wind power is […]

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Society calls for Scottish fracking review

Royal Society of Edinburgh calls for review of reserve potential and concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing. Photo by photostock77/Shutterstock EDINBURGH, Scotland, June 22 (UPI) — Hydraulic fracturing in Scotland could give the Edinburgh government some autonomy over the energy sector with few environmental impacts, a policy paper read. The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the premier scientific academy in Scotland, said the controversial drilling practice known also as fracking offers Scotland important options for onshore natural gas. "Onshore production of unconventional gas would allow Scotland control over all regulation surrounding extraction and production," the paper read. Fracking involves the use of water, abrasives and a trace amount of chemicals to coax oil and natural gas out of shale deposits. Critics argue the practice carries with it a significant amount of risk, ranging from an increase in minor earthquakes to contamination of regional water supplies. The society’s paper said the environmental […]

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In Oil, Aberdeen Struggles With Price, Output

Sean Murphy, an Aberdeen oil-rig supervisor, has been looking for work for months. ENLARGE Photo: JO HANLEY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ABERDEEN, Scotland—When he was laid off in December, Sean Murphy thought he would easily find a new job with his 30 years of experience as a supervisor on oil rigs all over Europe’s North Sea. Five months and more than 200 résumés later, Mr. Murphy has lost confidence. So, too, has this once-buoyant city. Often called Europe’s energy capital for the high number of oil-and-gas firms operating here, Aberdeen is a victim of the sharp drop in oil prices since last year. More than 1,000 oil workers have been laid off in the region since the downturn began last year. Local businesses, from taxi cabs to hotels and restaurants, report fewer customers and fear worse is to come. The property market, once one of Britain’s hottest, has […]

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Scotland should be shielded from low oil price, says Salmond

North Sea oil rig or gas platform Scotland could be shielded by the rest of the UK from the impact of low North Sea oil revenues even if it gains the “full fiscal autonomy” demanded by the Scottish National party, former SNP leader Alex Salmond has claimed. The suggestion that Scotland could continue to benefit from billions of pounds in fiscal transfers from the UK even if it takes full control over all its revenues is likely to outrage SNP critics south of the border. Pro-union parties have already put pressure on the SNP over its call for devolution of all taxes in Scotland, saying that slumping oil revenues would mean a massive fiscal crunch for Scottish governments that would no longer receive a large proportion of their funding from London. But in a column  for the pro-independence The National newspaper, Mr Salmond suggested the “no detriment” principle adopted […]

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Peak Oil and Scotland

As it is a finite resource, by definition, we will run out of Oil at some point. Around the year 2000, Scotland (and the UK Continental Shelf as a whole) reached “peak oil” (Oil and Gas UK 2014).  So what is “peak oil”, and what are the implications of it? Peak oil is the point at which the highest rate of oil production is achieved, and beyond which oil production enters terminal decline. This could be due to many reasons – be it due to conscious policy choices by world governments to leave oil in the ground, or it becoming impossible or undesirable to extract what oil remains. The reason it is so difficult to anticipate when peak oil will occur is because new technology becomes available which either makes it possible to extract more difficult and remote fields, or it becomes possible to get more oil from fields […]

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Scotland enacts fracking moratorium

Scottish government places moratorium on fracking, citing need for more research. Photo by Steve Oehlenschlager/Shutterstock EDINBURGH, Scotland, Jan. 29 (UPI) — The Scottish government will take a cautious look at shale oil and gas extraction during a moratorium period, the energy minister said Thursday. "I am announcing a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement. The ban comes as those in the British government press ahead with its shale ambitions despite frustration surrounding the frontier natural gas sector. Authorities in Lancashire County in England, said to hold vast shale natural gas deposits, are reviewing drilling applications submitted by Cuadrilla Resources. Ewing said the moratorium was enacted so Scottish legislators could take time to review public health or other concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing, known also as fracking. "We recognize that local […]

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Urgent N Sea oil review ordered as job axe falls on Aberdeen

Challenge: Aberdeen is centre of the UK oil sector The British government has ordered an urgent review of the North Sea oil industry after a collapse in prices that has prompted hundreds of job losses and raised fears for the survival of ageing fields. BP’s UK arm told staff in Aberdeen on Thursday that it would cut 300 staff and contractor jobs from its 3,500-strong North Sea business — the latest in a series of job losses and pay cuts in the sector. More On this story On this topic IN UK Economy During a visit to Aberdeen to discuss the impact of slumping oil prices, Ed Davey, the energy secretary, said he had instructed Andy Samuel, the chief executive designate of Britain’s new Oil and Gas Authority, to “lead an urgent commission, working with industry, to identify the key risks to [UK] oil and gas production”. Mr Davey […]

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Scotland draws low-carbon fire

Friends of the Earth says Scottish air pollution levels creating a regional health crisis. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian EDINBURGH, Scotland, Jan. 12 (UPI) — Though Scotland has one of the most ambitious renewable energy programs in the world, Friends of the Earth said the country’s pollution is a health concern. Friends of the Earth said its review of 2014 government data show air pollution is responsible for as much as $2.5 billion in annual healthcare costs for the Scottish people. "Scotland’s streets are shown to have dangerous levels of toxic pollution which are breaking legal limits that were due to be met in 2010," campaigner Emilia Hanna said in Saturday statement. Scotland aims to draw more on renewable energy to power its economy, while looking toward oil and gas reserves in the North Sea as a source of revenue . Renewable electricity capacity has grown at an average rate of 660 […]

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Scotland calls for North Sea reforms

Scottish government accuses British rivals of mismanaging North Sea oil and gas sector. (UPI/Shutterstock/James Jones Jr.) EDINBURGH, Scotland, Jan. 9 (UPI) — The Scottish government wants reforms in the tax regime of the North Sea oil and gas sector to ensure long-term sustainability, the energy minister said. Scotland pegged its future during a bid for independence on revenue from oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. The bid failed last year, though Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said frustration endured in the sector. "The oil and gas industry is a strong success story for Scotland and will continue to be," he said in a late Thursday statement. "However, because of the mismanagement of oil and gas fiscal policy by the U.K. government, challenges remain and we must tackle the on-going cost pressures and the fall in oil prices head on." Ewing said the region’s energy sector needs a […]

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Oil prices a cause for Scottish concern

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney says oil prices may drag on parts of the economy. (Photo: Scottish government) 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 […]

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Oil rout would have wrecked an independent Scotland’s finances

Scotland, UK — Flaring a well signals huge success for Amerada Hess in this discovery well that produced at the rate of 10,000 barrels of oil per day. It was the biggest find in the Scottish sector of the North Sea in over a decade. On exploration wells there is no way to contain out-flowing gas and oil without risking an explosion, so hydrocarbons are shot out into the atmosphere and ignited. A test burn like this will last several hours to be sure the rate of flow is sustainable before a company will invest millions to lay an underwater pipeline and bring in a production platform. — Image by © George Steinmetz/Corbis ©George Steinmetz/Corbis Scotland’s North Sea revenues would have slumped to one fifth of Holyrood’s preferred forecasts in its first year of independence if Scots had voted Yes in September, according to an Office for Budget Responsibility […]

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Scotland creates center for innovation in wave energy

The Scottish government aims to draw investors to fledgling wave energy industry, though one major contributor, Pelamis, doesn’t have the funds to move forward. Shutterstock/Ethan Daniels EDINBURGH, Scotland, Nov. 24 (UPI) — Scotland, a world leader in renewable energy development, still has a lot to learn in terms of wave energy programs, the energy minister said. Minister Fergus Ewing unveiled plans to develop a technology center dubbed "Wave Energy Scotland," which he said would encourage innovation and development in the offshore marine energy sector . "With the extraordinary ocean energy resources off Scotland’s coasts, our belief in the future success of wave energy is undiminished," he said in a Saturday statement. The Scottish government has put pressure on its British counterparts after a failed bid for independence, arguing for a more diluted power structure when it comes to energy sector management. The Scottish government says its power systems account […]

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No means yes for Scotland, energy companies say

| License Photo LONDON, Sept. 19 (UPI) — After a "no" vote, British energy company BP said Friday it would work closely with the governments in Edinburgh and London to boost North Sea recovery. More than half of the voters taking part in a Thursday referendum for independence from the United Kingdom chose to continue on with 307 years of unity. BP said it would stay on with its commitments in the North Sea . "BP will continue to work closely with both the UK and Scottish governments to realize our shared ambition of maximizing economic recovery from the North Sea," the company said. Scotland said independence would have drawn in substantial oil and gas wealth in the North Sea, with power coming from renewable resources. Edinburgh touted the revenue potential on the day of the referendum. Analysis this week from Wood Mackenzie found that while most of the […]

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Wood Mac: All energy eyes on Scottish vote

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Energy companies working in the North Sea need a sense of fiscal confidence no matter how the Scottish referendum turns out, Wood Mackenzie said Wednesday. Scotland holds a one-sentence referendum Thursday for independence from the United Kingdom. The government in Edinburgh said it could support itself with oil and gas revenue while powering an independent Scotland with renewable resources . Energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie said fiscal uncertainty is a primary concern for oil and gas companies working in the region. "Regardless of which government is in charge of the industry, companies will seek stability and simplicity around existing fiscal terms as well as tax incentives for harder to produce reserves," it said. "Industry engagement will be paramount to maximizing value for both government and companies." Wood Mackenzie, which has headquarters in the Scottish capital, said much of the oil and gas remaining […]

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Scotland bets on North Sea oil, even as the wells start to run dry

1 of 25 Full Screen Autoplay Thousands march in Edinburgh against; a different story in Glasgow ABERDEEN, Scotland — The discovery of oil deep beneath the waters of the North Sea has made this ancient port city an energy boom town, with some of the highest wages and lowest unemployment rates anywhere in Europe. Now, leaders of the campaign to break from Britain in a Thursday referendum are counting on the spoils of “Scotland’s oil” to help spread prosperity across their newly independent nation, funding schools, health care and social welfare programs. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has promised an oil fund, modeled on Norway’s, to ensure that the country’s wealth is broadly shared. But in the final days before the vote, that vision of a progressive and egalitarian society built on a foundation of black goo is coming up against the hard reality of energy economics: After four […]

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If Scotland Goes, Bankers Fear Britain Could Exit European Union

Photo Cup cakes showing, yes, no and undecided are displayed in Cuckoo’s Bakery in Edinburgh, Scotland. Cup cakes showing, yes, no and undecided are displayed in Cuckoo’s Bakery in Edinburgh, Scotland.Credit Matt Cardy/Getty Images LONDON — Tremors over a possible breakup of the United Kingdom have been felt here in recent days, as markets gyrate and banks make contingency plans. Yet as Scotland nears its vote on whether to be an independent nation, bankers here worry that a split might unintentionally set in motion a push for what could be a much uglier divorce: an exit of Britain from the European Union. “There’s a sense of, ‘If it could happen in Scotland, it could happen in the U.K.,’ ” said Chris Cummings, chief executive of TheCityUK, a lobbying group for the financial sector. If an independent Scotland would be complicated, a Britain alone in Europe would be a complete […]

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Support for Scots’ independence slips behind with days to go: poll

EDINBURGH (Reuters) – Supporters of keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom have clawed back a 4 percentage point lead over separatists, a YouGov poll showed on Friday, with less than a week to go before Scots vote in a referendum on independence. The YouGov survey for The Times and Sun newspapers put Scottish support for the union at 52 percent versus support for independence at 48 percent, excluding those who said they did not know how they would vote. "The ‘no’ campaign has moved back into the lead in Scotland’s referendum campaign," YouGov President Peter Kellner said in a commentary on the survey. "This is the first time ‘no’ has gained ground since early August." The indication that support for keeping the United Kingdom intact has drawn slightly ahead in Scotland is of only meagre comfort to unionists; the broader picture painted by recent surveys is that the vote […]

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‘Yes’ vote means more oil, Scotland says

ABERDEEN, Scotland, Sept. 10 (UPI) — Only a "yes" vote on the independence referendum will give Scotland the chance to realize the North Sea’s oil and gas potential, the energy minister said. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said Wednesday he welcomed a paper published from the University of Aberdeen finding 99 oil discoveries will be commercially viable over the next 30 years . "In value terms half the wealth from Scotland’s oil remains and by grabbing the independence opportunity later this month we can put an end to poor U.K. stewardship of this vital resource," Ewing said in a statement. Scotland votes Sept. 18 in a one-sentence referendum for independence from the United Kingdom. The government in Edinburgh says it could support its economy with oil and gas reserves , while relying on renewable resources for power. The University of Aberdeen study finds 58 of the expected new discoveries […]

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Scottish independence: New poll eases pressure on No camp

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a visit to Scottish Widows offices in Edinburgh, where he made an impassioned plea to keep Scotland part of the union, saying he would be "heartbroken" if the UK was torn apart. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 10, 2014. See PA story REFERENDUM Main. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire The embattled campaign against Scottish independence earned some respite on Wednesday as a poll gave the No side a six-point lead and leading oil bosses joined Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, in warning of the potential costs of separation. On the day that David Cameron said he would be “heartbroken” if the United Kingdom was broken up, a Survation poll for the Daily Record suggested the No campaign’s lead was holding steady at 53 against 47 for Yes. More On this story On this topic IN UK Politics […]

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Scotland independence vote sets North Sea oil industry on edge

Scotland’s independence vote has received a last-minute jolt of energy as polls show a surge by the Nationalist camp, which has effectively countered a mostly downbeat “No” campaign and picked holes in London’s claims to be a responsible custodian of North Sea oil. A week ahead of the September 18 referendum and with oil remaining a major issue, pro-Union politicians and the financial community in London have been alarmed by polls showing the Nationalists level-pegging, after months in which the “Better Together” camp had a comfortable lead. Leaders in industry and government have presented arguments knocking down Nationalist aspirations to a prosperous Norwegian-style state underpinned by a sovereign wealth fund that would save oil wealth for future generations. But the arguments against–such as that Norway is at an earlier stage in its oil production and is thus not comparable, or has a more favorable demographic situation–have proved less persuasive […]

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Scottish independence: David Cameron launches impassioned plea to Scots

UK prime minister David Cameron ‘We desperately want you to stay; we do not want this family of nations to be ripped apart,’ said Mr Cameron David Cameron has made his most impassioned appeal to Scots to stay in the UK, urging them to choose a “brighter future for Scotland by voting No” rather than a “leap in the dark with a Yes vote”. With opinion polls showing the result of the September 18 referendum too close to call, the prime minister and Labour leader Ed Miliband have postponed their weekly clash at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday to join the No campaign in Scotland. More On this story On this topic IN UK Politics & Policy Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, will also campaign against independence. Writing in the Daily Mail , Mr Cameron said the “United Kingdom is a precious and special country . . . so let no one […]

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Why Does Scotland Want Independence? It’s Culture vs. Economics

If you had told someone in 2012 that in just two years the eurozone would remain bonded together but the United Kingdom might not, they would have thought you insane. But here we are. It’s been a good three centuries, but now Scotland may want out of the United Kingdom. The stakes are enormous for Scotland, and quite high for the rest of Britain. But the debate over Scottish independence also sheds important light on how debates over the nature of the state that are as old as Hobbes and Locke apply in a modern world of instant communication and cryptocurrency. The latest polling on the referendum, to be held Sept. 18, points to a narrow edge for Scots who wish to pull out of the state that they have been part of since 1707 and go it as a nation of their own. Previous polls, by contrast, had […]

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