LONDON, March 6 Royal Dutch Shell has
become the second energy heavyweight to urge Scotland to stay in
the United Kingdom as the campaign for Scottish independence
battles mounting opposition from businesses.
Shell is a key player in the North Sea oil and gas fields
off Scotland and its Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said a vote
for independence on Sept. 18 would mean greater uncertainty for
the energy industry.
Last month, the boss of BP warned Scottish
independence could cause "uncertainties" for his company.
Other oil companies in the North Sea on Thursday stressed
the importance of predictability for their operations, joining a
growing number of financial services companies voicing concerns
about the impact of independence but avoiding political comment.
Another of Scotland's largest companies Aggreko, a
provider of temporary power generators which has its
headquarters in Glasgow, joined the chorus on Thursday.
It said independence would likely add significantly to its
administration costs as its UK operations would have to be split
into two trading entities.
Opinion polls have the independence movement trailing with
only about one third of voter support but the gap in the polls
has narrowed this year as the debate gathers pace.
Van Beurden said he valued the continuity and stability that
the UK offered, arguing for its continued inclusion of Scotland
and membership of the European Union.
"We'd like to see Scotland remain part of the United
Kingdom," Van Beurden told a company event in London on
Wednesday evening as reported by the BBC.
"We're 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."
CURRENCY, TAX CONCERNS
Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing offered to meet
Shell to discuss the future of the oil and gas industry if
Scotland votes to end its 307-year tie with England.
"An independent Scotland with full control of its economy
and huge resources will offer an attractive and stable
environment for businesses in the offshore and other sectors,"
Ewing said in a statement.
Norway's Statoil, also a major operator in the
North Sea, said it stood by a statement made by industry
organisation Oil & Gas UK, which said it was essential the
independence debate did not create any instability.
That view was echoed by TAQA, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi
National Energy Company.
"Predictability and long-term planning are what the industry
requires of any government, particularly in the fiscal regime
and the licensing and regulatory framework," said a spokeswoman.
Several financial services companies have raised concerns
about the risks, with Barclays and state-backed Lloyds
Banking Group joining the list this
Among their concerns, companies have highlighted uncertainty
over what currency would be used in an independent Scotland, how
tax and regulatory regimes might change, the cost of doing
business and whether EU membership would be feasible.
Two airlines, however, British Airways and Ryanair
, have said Scottish independence could be good for their
businesses due to proposals to abolish air passenger tax.