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Shell worries for North Sea profits if Scots vote Yes

Oil giant Shell drilled into the Scottish independence debate yesterday, claiming that a split would hit the "certainty" of its North Sea profits.

Oil giant Shell drilled into the Scottish independence debate yesterday, claiming that a split would hit the "certainty" of its North Sea profits.

North Sea oil and gas reserves have taken centre stage, with SNP ministers promising to create a national oil fund to serve as an independent Scotland's economic base while critics point to industry predictions of declining revenues.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has also ruled out any tax increases on oil and gas firms and guaranteed tax relief on decommissioning rigs, pledging "stability and predictability" for the industry.

But oil and gas bosses haven't been swayed.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden told fellow executives at a swanky London reception this week that "given a choice" the firm would prefer a No vote in the referendum.

Mr van Beurden said the industry was "used to operating in uncertain political and economic environments.

"But, given a choice, we want to know as accurately as possible what investment conditions will look like 10 or 20 years from now.

"It's for similar reasons that we'd like to see Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom," he said.

His comments came after BP boss Bob Dudley said that any wrangling over a currency union with the remainder of Britain would be "a concern" for the industry.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said the independence debate was a matter for the Scottish people, but added that oil and gas representatives were welcome to seek a meeting to discuss the industry's future.

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