LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc has become the second oil heavyweight to urge Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom, a new setback for the campaign for Scottish independence.
Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said a vote for independence on Sept. 18 would mean greater uncertainty for the energy industry, given the important role of North Sea oil and gas.
His concerns follow comments by some of Britain’s leading financial services firms about the risks to their operations from a vote for independence.
Van Beurden said on Wednesday at a company event in London that he valued “the continuity and stability” that the UK offered, arguing for its continued membership of the European Union and Scotland remaining part of the country.
“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,” he said, in comments reported by the BBC.
“That’s the chief reason we’re in favour of the UK maintaining its long-established place at the heart of the European Union: it provides greater investment stability and certainty ... It’s for similar reasons that we’d like to see Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom.”
Shell is the second oil major to voice doubts about the impact of Scottish independence.
The boss of BP, a big investor in the North Sea waters and Britain’s country’s second-biggest oil company, warned last month that Scottish independence could cause “uncertainties” for his company.
Several financial services companies have also raised concerns publicly about the risks of Scotland ending its 307-year tie with England.
State-backed Lloyds Banking Group said on Wednesday it could face significant cost increases if Scotland votes to become independent.
Edinburgh-based insurance and pensions heavyweight Standard Life and part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland have also warnied of the risks of Scottish independence.
Standard Life is so far the only major company to warn it could move partly out of Scotland if Scots split from the UK.