Government confirms independence could generate west coast oil bonanza!

Scotland's oil invested in the future?

The Scottish Government has confirmed that oil exploration off south-west Scotland could go ahead post-independence. This has the potential to transform the economy in the west of Scotland.

It recently came to light that the Ministry of Defence blocked a potential oil boom in the Firth of Clyde during the 1980s.  BP undertook seismic surveys south of Arran and east of Kintyre in early 1981.

However, the MoD were “very strongly opposed to any drilling” according to a briefing for Scottish Secretary George Younger. Any Firth of Clyde drilling program would potentially have interfered with MoD operations, including the operation of the nuclear weapons submarine fleet at Faslane.

Since then, no known investigation of oil reserves on the west coast has taken place.  After a Yes vote the removal of nuclear weapons would open up this massive area for oil and gas exploration.

fergus-ewingFergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, has confirmed that after an independence vote the Scottish Government would consider applications for exploratory oil and gas drilling rights off the south-west coast of Scotland.

The Minister was replying to a letter written by Norman Geddes, Managing Partner at Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors, based in Ayr, as well as executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle to First Minister Alex Salmond.

Norman Geddes, Frazer Coogans SolicitorsIn his letter to Alex Salmond, Mr Geddes referred to recent newspaper revelations that revealed that in the 1980s, the UK Ministry of Defence blocked oil companies from making further exploration off the coast of south-west Scotland after initial tests had indicated the likely presence in the area of recoverable reserves of oil and gas.

The reason given at the time was the proximity of the Trident base at Faslane, and that further drilling activities might interfere with nuclear submarine exercises.

These facts have come to light as a result of Freedom of Information requests by Chic Brodie MSP, and have been reported by Andrew Picken in three separate articles in the “Sunday Post” newspaper.

In his letter the Minister wrote: “With independence, Scotland will obtain full control of offshore licensing and leases, which will create new opportunities to deliver community benefits from offshore development while giving due regard to the diverse marine environment. If there are exploration opportunities off Scotland’s shores then it is clear that these should be fully considered and encouraged where appropriate to do so.

“All proposals for exploration will be considered on their individual merits, and I would reiterate that there will be no “no-go” areas for exploration in Scottish waters.”

Norman Geddes commented: “I would like to congratulate Chic Brodie for his tireless efforts to bring this matter into the public domain, and Andrew Picken for his almost single-handed reporting of our efforts in the “Sunday Post”.

“If oil and gas are discovered off our coastline in recoverable quantities, it would transform the economy of Ayrshire and South-West Scotland, and also provide a significant boost to the prosperity of Scotland as a whole.”

But what about the environment?

As Business for Scotland has pointed out before the longer term value of oil will come from using oil as a petrochemical ingredient in the manufacturing of plastics, drugs and other added value processes that are just not possible when oil runs out.  Simply extracting and burning it will make little sense economically in the near future as it does in environmental terms.  As the Scottish Greens recently stated:

“We need to leave a great deal of our oil and gas in the ground, or support a more diverse range of petrochemical uses which don’t involve greenhouse gas emissions”. 

“Scotland has the skills to do that, and with the usable portion of oil and gas funding public investment in renewables to replace future revenue, we have the opportunity to make this transition rapidly. The UK will only ever see North Sea oil as a revenue source; Scotland could see it as a springboard, taking us from reliance on polluting and finite energy sources to the cleantech of the future”.


Well done to Chic Brodie MSP and Norman Geddes of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle. The significant economic implications for Scotland of lifting the UK Governments / MOD ban on exploration is only possible with independence.

The UK Government are determined to replace Trident at a massive cost the taxpayer.  Scotland needs to spend its share of that massive cost, including a £500,000,000 saving a year with a conventional defence force, on stimulating economic growth and meeting the social needs of our population.

Join Business for Scotland, in convincing the business community of the benefits of voting Yes in 2014 – Read More


Category: Economics of Independence, Scotland's Economy

About the Author ()

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before joining Business for Scotland full time first as its MD and then CEO he ran a small social media and sales & marketing consultancy. With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G). Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and The Huffington Post.

Comments (23)

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  1. Theresa says:

    My husband worked with someone a few years back who was part of the test drilling off of the west coast of Scotland in the 70’s and 80’s. Their findings were there is more oil off the west coast than what they find in samples from the north sea in Scottish waters. They had to cover it up, they had no option and as it was for the m.o.d. and for the purpose not to cause any more cries for independence it was hidden. Is Scotland does get independence then the jobs at Faslane and the jobs on the chain from Faslane are approx 6000, the creation from an oil and gas exploration and continuing employment would be in the region of 39,000. I think getting rid of trident and starting a better fund for the people of this country is far better option. People mentioning what about passports, people who work abroad need passports so why would it matter? Also on another point some bright spark mentioned we are not 1 country we are in fact 4 countries joined as a union, please remember that. The fact you feel we are not a country is part of the problem.

  2. In the early 70’s the then named BNOC before becoming Britoil and absorption into BP, contracted drill-ship ‘Discoverer Seven Seas’ for six months to conduct core sampling West of the Western Isles in what was to become known as the Rockall Trough, and the findings were extremely favourable but never released for public scrutiny! In fact it coincided with the ‘unpublished’ McCrone report!

  3. Craig smith says:

    As much as any country has the right to determine its future. All this hype on oil in Scotland fair comments. But let’s not forget. Oil would be your primary economic production. I have lived in
    Poole for 10 years and we to have oil shock horror! (

    And besides the oil and shale gas we don’t need to go about feeling we are hard done by. One country one family. If that’s your best feature a one that will take your economy out of recession good luck. Please just don’t ask the uk to defend you if you get invaded,nor peg your new currency on our developed one. As a footnote besides oil which I may add such wonderful tourist locations such as Iraq, Iran and Yemen,Scotland is no greater than a small developing country. Good luck on your future. As a final question for the millions of scots living in the uk. If independence meant you needed a visa to live and work in the uk how would that affect your vote? And if you did needs visa would you still want to be an I dependant country and apply like the other countries waiting to join the EU? I think not.

    • Dennis Garden says:

      If it comes to that needing a work permit to work in the rest of the UK.I take it the people living in the rest of the UK who work in the Scottish part of the North Sea(Oil Rigs)will need a work permit to work in Scottish waters.But to sort that they can be replaced by Scottish workers living in Scotland.Therefore more jobs for Scots.

    • Retro_Rabbit says:

      Oil represents 15% of the Scottish economy.

    • macanders says:

      there is plenty english making a living in scotland .will they need a scottish visa?

  4. Catherine Kerr says:

    As a Daughter of the Rock I have always been fearful of removing Trident due to the economic backlash of jobs gone forever. I worked in Coulport, Faslane and Glen Douglas a million years ago!
    However if oil and gas could be drilled, such a saviour to the whole of the socio deprived area as in no work available for the whole of the west coast. Oil and Gas Rigs on the Clyde and the Leven what a wonderful vision.
    Please vote YES on my behalf from Dubai

  5. Bryan Weir says:

    This has been public knowledge since last October when the classified documents came to light under the 30 year rule. I am surprised that the SNP have not made more of it?

  6. Michelle says:

    It is now apparent why BP continue to invest in Scotland despite the uncertainty in September, I’m guessing they would likely relish the opportunity to get back to work, and it’s about time Scotland reintroduced industries to replace those which were deconstructed, bizarrely enough, around the same time as all this was developing in the early 80’s. Didn’t we also have a wee referendum back then too??

    • Dennis Garden says:

      Get what you are saying,and we did not have a referendum back then.Its a pity we did not.

  7. james jack says:

    what i would like ot know is will the fishing fleet be considered in this ??

    • Bryan Weir says:

      There is still fishing in the North Sea James.

    • Frank Yeoman says:

      Hi.James. I think the fact that v boats would’nt be discharging high level waste
      into Scottish Waters any more. Hopefully the discharge from Hunterstone B. H.M.S.Vulcan. Dounraey. and Torness will eventually stop.The beaches at Sellarfield
      Dounreay,and Dalgety bay no go areas,
      Now that the 200,000 barrels of high level
      waste dumped in the Irish sea in 77 have started to rust and are falling apart. We’re
      In uncharted water on the out come of
      that one. The shellfish and other fisheries in Scotland would want waters that werent polluted with goodness knows what. We got one shot and one shot only to try and
      fix this mess that’s been visited upon us.

  8. willie says:

    Despite exploratory drilling and seismic investigation into hydrocarbon reserves in the Firth of Clyde in the 80’s, results were blocked and analysis by the British Geological Society were suppressed.

    Can you imagine the outrage if the MOD wanted to shut Aberdeen oil bases down to suit Trident.

    Well Trident impoverished the West of Scotland. But not this time.

  9. Lisa Scott says:

    Shout this from the rooftops please.The Scottish people need to know we will be “better off”with this latest revelation on the W.coast oil.

  10. Darren Murdoch says:

    I would like to hear a clear and concise position from both camps, on this matter, prior to the forthcoming independence referendum. I would agree entirely with Mr Norman Geddes, in that the discovery of recoverable deposits of oil and gas, off the South West coast, would transform the economy of Ayrshire and would aid the economy of Scotland as a whole. Furthermore, as a resident of Ayrshire, I can only look on in envy at what the oil industry has done for Aberdeen. Action is desperately needed to boost the economy of South West Scotland.

    • anna kinnon says:

      Why do we need eny thing ? Are you saying we need to beg we need to be told we always will need a finger waged to us are you saying saying we need the bullies to control us why are we having these debates ……we have been brainwashed we have no media what so ever now we have to beg our own people the Scots to vote for Scotland so bad has the brainwashing been….it is absolutely shameful and astounding!!!!

  11. Bill Cruickshank says:

    This is THE game changer. Make this public knowledge and we win a YES vote comfortably. Probably the most important topic in the whole independence debate. Please make this as public as possible.

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