| EDINBURGH, July 10
EDINBURGH, July 10 Revenues from Britain's oil
over the next 30 years could be around 25 percent less than
previously predicted, the UK's independent budget office said on
Thursday, delivering a blow to Scotland's campaign for
The Office for Budget Responsibility said in an annual
report that since last year predicted combined revenues for the
six years from 2013-14 to 2018-19 had been revised down by 8
billion pounds ($13.6 billion).
Expected revenues also for the period 2019-20 to 2040-41
have been cut to 39.3 billion pounds, down 12.6 billion from the
OBR's estimate last year.
The vast majority of the UK's offshore oil lies off
Scotland, and separatists cite substantial income from North Sea
oil as a cornerstone of their plans.
The latest polls show that the campaign supporting
independence has lost momentum, however, with concerns over the
economy a major issue for voters as they consider whether to end
Scotland's 307-year union with England in a referendum on Sept
"Our projections suggest that North Sea oil and gas receipts
will remain a valuable fiscal resource for many years to come.
But they are highly volatile from year to year," Robert Chote,
chairman of the OBR, wrote in a letter to the devolved Scottish
"It is clear that the long-term trend in receipts is
In May, the UK and Scottish governments clashed over the
fiscal position of an independent Scotland, with differing views
over North Sea productivity at the heart of the row.
The Scottish government said the latest estimates by the OBR
gave an estimate for future total production that was too low.
"The OBR's forecasts rest on estimates of future production
which are well below that used by the industry, by leading
experts and by the UK Government," a spokesman for Scottish
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said.
The Scottish government released estimates in May showing it
expected nearly 7 billion pounds a year in energy revenue for
the next five years.
The OBR said, however, that it expected oil and gas revenue
to fall from 6.1 billion pounds in 2012-13 to 3.5 billion pounds
in 2018-19 and that its own forecasts had been shown to be
over-optimistic in recent years.
A spokesman for the British Treasury said the UK government
could support the oil and gas industry if Scotland votes to
reject independence but that a separate Scotland would "miss out
on the long-term economic potential it has to offer".
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(editing by Jane Baird)