Oil revenues ‘fall by over 75%’

An oil rig worker in the North Sea

North Sea oil revenues in the first three months of 2015 were down 75% on the previous quarter, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

The Scottish government’s quarterly national accounts show that the amount received in tax receipts between January and March was £168m.

This was down from £742m oil revenues in the final three months of 2014.

Finance Minister John Swinney said oil was a bonus – not the basis of the economy.

The industry has suffered from the collapse of global oil prices, which have tumbled sharply since June last year.

‘Wildly wrong’

The Scottish Conservatives said the figures for Scotland’s geographical share of oil revenues, which they claimed were “buried” in a table in a report, showed “how wildly wrong” the SNP’s pre-referendum calculations had been.

The Tories said the figures also further demonstrated the case against full fiscal autonomy for Scotland – an SNP policy.

In its oil and gas bulletin published in May 2014, the Scottish government estimated that oil revenues would be between £15.8bn and £38.7bn between 2014/15 and 2018/19.

It latest bulletin, published in June this year, said revenues could be as low as £2.4bn for 2016/17 to 2019/20, with it highest estimate at £10.8bn, based on a best-case scenario of the oil price returning to 100 US dollars per barrel.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “The plunge in oil revenues for the first three months of this year is incredible.

“Whichever way you look at it, and with the best will in the world, there is just no way an independent Scotland could survive on this.

“We knew the price of oil was volatile and that this would be a risk. But to see such a radical drop is alarming.”

‘A bonus’

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Our oil and gas bulletin, published in June, confirmed that Scotland remains, by some margin, the biggest oil producer in the entire European Union.

“Recent provisional figures from DECC suggest that May saw the most oil and gas produced in the North Sea since March 2012. If this trend is sustained production could increase this year for the first time in 15 years.

“Oil, however, is a bonus, not the basis of Scotland’s economy. Even without it, Scotland’s output per head ranks third of the 12 countries and regions of the UK, behind only London and the South East.”

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