BP urges Scotland to vote against independence

Oil Barrels

BP, one of the North Sea's biggest investors, has urged Scotland to vote against independence next week, arguing that oil wealth would best be protected by remaining inside the UK.

Bob Dudley, the chief executive, spoke out after another key local oil industrialist, Sir Ian Wood, accused the Scottish Nationalist party of exaggerating the amount of oil and gas available for extraction.

"As a major investor in Scotland – now and into the future – BP believes that the future prospects for the North Sea are best served by maintaining the existing capacity and integrity of the United Kingdom," said Dudley, who had spoken publicly about the issue only once before.

He added on Wednesday: "The opportunities today are smaller and more challenging to develop than in the past. We also face the challenges of extending the productive life of existing assets and managing the future costs of decommissioning. Much of this activity requires fiscal support to be economic, and future long-term investments require fiscal stability and certainty."

Dudley, who has been accused recently of not doing enough to highlight the dangers of Scottish independence, made his statement after Wood, who founded the Aberdeen-based offshore supply group of the same name, held a press conference in Edinburgh to stress his concerns about SNP oil predictions.

As the oil industry raised their voices on the future of the North Sea, Standard Life, one of the leading pillars of Scotland's finance industry, warned it would move pensions and investments out of Scotland to protect its UK customers if Scotland voted for independence.

David Nish, the chief executive, said: "Standard Life has a long history in Scotland – a heritage of which we are very proud and we hope that this continues but our responsibility is to protect the interests of our customers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business."

With just eight days until the referendum, the Edinburgh-based insurer reiterated the risks from uncertainty over the currency that an independent Scotland would use – EU membership, the monetary system, banking regulation and individual taxation on pensions and savings. The company first outlined these risks in February, but the issues have not become clearer since then.

Like other companies, Standard Life has started registering new English subsidiaries to which it could transfer parts of its business. This could include pensions and investments held by UK customers to ensure that transactions with customers outside Scotland continue to be in sterling; all customers outside Scotland will still be part of the UK tax regime and covered by UK consumer protection and regulatory arrangements.

Standard Life will continue to be listed on the London Stock Exchange, and dividends will be paid to shareholders in the same way.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Terry Macalister and Julia Kollewe, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 10th September 2014 13.41 Europe/London

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