Abdalla Salem el-Badri, Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] has told The Daily Telegraph today, 7th October, that most of the North Sea oil fields are depleted.
He dismissed the possibility of a Scottish membership of OPEC, which would leave an independent Scotland vulnerable to decisions on production and pricing made by OPEC, which meets regularly in Vienna.
With 16% of annual revenues of an independent Scotland possibly coming from the North Sea, this level of vulnerability is of serious concern.
The UK Treasury has already pointed out that First Minister Alex Salmond’s claims that there is £1.5 trillion of oil and gas reserves left in the North Sea:
- are the most optimistic assessment
- reflect the total wholesale value of this assessment of reserves
- do not reflect the tax revenues this reserve would bring to the state
- assume no cost for the extraction of this reserve.l
The Office of Budget Responsibility has predicted that oil pioces will fall back to $93 per barrel by 2017-18, where the First Minister had based his figures in the assumption of a price of $150 per barrel.
Moreover, figures published last week by HMRC for North Sea tax receipts over the past ten years showed that they were lower by an average of £600 million per annum than the estimates from the Scottish Government.