Let’s not get fooled again over oil

Following detective work by Chic Brodie MSP, publicity about oil reserves in the Firth of Clyde has finally forced former Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine to confirm that drilling was prevented in the early 1980s because of Polaris (now Trident) nuclear submarines.

His confession ends another McCrone-style cover-up (1974-2005) of Scotland’s true oil wealth (http://wingsoverscotland.com/fool-you-twice-shame-on-you/#more-60055).

The UK Government’s game plan has always been to pull the wool over our eyes with pessimistic prophecies about oil.

Recent pendulum-swinging, downward predictions are politically-motivated deceit (http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/9623-sir-ian-woods-oil-intervention-was-political). Its bluff has been called by no less a player than the FT’s Investor’s Chronicle: “We think that Westminster has been deliberately downplaying the potential ... ahead of September’s referendum.” (http://wingsoverscotland.com/?s=investors+chronicle)

The confident, all-time-high investment behaviour of the oil companies proves the buoyant outlook of the industry and the market.

In any case, the North Sea is merely our first hydrocarbon province. To the west of Shetland, the Clair Ridge holds vast, exploitable reserves.

Another new horizon awaits on the west coast, as recently intimated by Professor John Howell, chair in geology and petroleum geology at the University of Aberdeen: “The offshore area to the west of Scotland includes several major basins with hydrocarbon potential. While over 3,000 exploration wells have been drilled in the North Sea and west of Shetland, only around 20 exploration wells have been drilled to the west of the Scottish mainland – with many basins totally unexplored.” (http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/clair-ridge-and-scotlands-new-oil-boom/).

Although the UK’s reckless failure to establish an oil fund means that much has been squandered, oil remaining in the North Sea has around the same cash value as oil already extracted. As record investment boosts that province, and as we stand on the brink of another oil boom on new horizons, we must not allow ourselves to be fooled again. Instead, we should empower an independent Scotland to seize the chance to do things differently.

Meanwhile, Providence Resources are estimating 530million barrels at Rathlin Island, off the northern Irish coast. With delicious irony, Providence named this development “The Polaris Prospect” and supplemented seismic surveys with gravity gradiometry, a technology used by the US Navy to detect Soviet submarines.

However, the most welcome irony of all is that, thanks to the Ministry of Defence, the black gold in Scottish waters remains untouched for the benefit of Scotland’s future. In the event that a Yes vote wins us a nuke-free Clyde, I suggest that the oilfield be dubbed The Trident Treasure.

Donald Gunn

Clovenfords