In the countdown to D-day for Scottish independence, there is a rift in opinion over the future of the North Sea's oil and gas industry. Even after a recent decision to downgrade its forecasts, the Scottish National Party (SNP) believes the maturing oil and gas fields could generate tax revenues of £34.3bn between now and 2018-19. The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) has put the figure at less than half that: just £15.8bn.
Despite concern about depleting reserves, innovation in the energy sector is particularly strong. Businesses working in the North Sea recognise that what they learn here about deep-water extraction will stand them in good stead when working or servicing fields in other parts of the world, particularly if they can secure patent protection for deep-water innovations.
One challenge the industry faces is tapping new wells. At depths of almost 2km, the technical challenges associated with installing equipment are immense. There is now a move towards new modular units that are dropped into place and then managed by remotely-operated underwater vehicles. New cages to protect the technology and mechanisms
This article has been extracted from http://www.theguardian.com, please click on this link to read the article in full http://www.theguardian.com/big-energy-debate/scottish-referendum-north-sea-oil-gas
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