Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon faces a crisis after a report by Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) found 30,000 offshore workers could be out of work after the price of Brent crude dropped to 20-year lows in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The OGUK warned jobs be lost in the next 12 to 18 months if the industry does not have help to “weather this storm”.
The news is a massive blow for Scotland, which relies heavily on oil revenue to prop up its economy.
Scotland possesses 96 percent of the UK’s crude oil and 63 percent of natural gas production.
Ms Sturgeon had pinned her independence hopes on being able to secure sole ownership of the oil fields, which sit in the UK’s territorial waters, to underpin the Scottish economy with the support of the Union.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “Like so many industries, our members have been profoundly impacted by Covid-19.
“With historic low oil and gas prices coming so soon after one of the most severe downturns our sector has experienced, these findings confirm an especially bleak outlook for the UK’s oil and gas industry.
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The report also warned Capital investment by North Sea oil and gas companies is now expected to fall more than a third this year to as little as £3.5bn, which OGUK saying this was “amongst the lowest levels of investment seen since the early 1970s”.
Money from North Sea oil was a major element of the SNP’s campaign for an independent Scotland in 2014, with former leader Alex Salmond claiming the reserves were worth £1.5trillion.
North Sea’s Brent crude, the international oil standard, has been decimated amid a raging crude price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the coronavirus.