LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The boss of BP, Britain’s second-biggest oil company, warned on Tuesday an independent Scotland could cause his company “uncertainties” and said he did not want to see Scotland drifting away.
“We have a lot of people in Scotland. We have a lot of investments in Scotland. My personal view is that Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together,” chief executive Bob Dudley told the BBC.
Uncertainty around currency issues could impact the company and, should Scotland become independent, it would result in additional costs for BP, Dudley told reporters later, becoming one of the most senior business leaders to enter the secession debate.
“It does not seem the right thing to me for the country to drift off. That’s not a company view, that’s from me,” the American BP boss added.
Scottish government leader Alex Salmond is leading the drive for Scotland to split from Britain in a Sept. 18 referendum, arguing that Scots will be better off in charge of their own finances which he sees benefiting from Scotland’s majority share of oil off the coast of Britain.
Salmond has proposed that Scotland form a currency union with Britain in the event of independence from London.
Alistair Darling, a Scot and a former British finance minister who is now chairman of the “Better Together” campaign which opposes a Scottish breakaway welcomed Dudley’s remarks.
“Bob Dudley is quite right to express concern about the issue of currency. It is far from certain what currency we would use if we vote to leave the UK,” he said in a statement.
However, the pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign dismissed Dudley’s remarks.
“With independence, the continued use of sterling has the overwhelming support of the people of Scotland and the public in the rest of the UK,” a spokesman told the BBC.
BP, which reported weaker profits earlier on Tuesday, remains a big investor in Britain’s North Sea, where production peaked in 1999.
The company is one of the investors in the 4.5 billion pound ($7.35 billion) Clair Ridge project which is under development off the coast of Scotland and Dudley on Tuesday called Scotland’s oil town of Aberdeen, “the heartland of the offshore oil and gas industry”.