THE black gold that is North Sea oil is not going to run out any time soon, no matter what the scaremongers in the Unionist press say.

Last week’s announcement of Hurricane Energy’s discovery of a giant oil field west of Shetland is proof of the longevity of the industry.

Scotland is infamously the only country in the world to have vast oil and gas resources and not be able to cope economically.

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But only the most diehard of Unionists believe that.

However, the true measure of oil riches is surely how you use that wealth for the good of all citizens and not just the well-off.

There was some shock in Norway early last year when it was announced that the country’s Oil Fund, now known as the Government Pension Fund, had been “tapped” for the first time.

A massive £470 million was taken out to help top up pensions and other social welfare activities.

This was the first time that a transfer from the Oil Fund had taken place since it was established in 1996. That deduction, based on the estimates and currency values at the time, left £699,500,000,000 in the “bank”.

By the summer of last year the fund’s investments – it has the world’s single largest accrual of stocks and shares – had taken the Oil Fund’s value back to more than £700 billion again.

Oil and gas is not the only field of cooperation between Norway and Scotland – right now there are exciting co-operative projects in the renewables industry, with sources hugely excited about Batwind in particular.

That is the development by Norway’s Statoil, in co-operation with numerous Scottish bodies, of battery storage for offshore wind production, often seen as a holy grail for renewables.

Ruairidh Tarvet of Edinburgh University is an expert on Scandinavia and is a translator from both Norwegian and Danish. He said: “When Norway gained independence it was an opportunity for them to express the values they held dear.

“We share some of those values with Scandinavia in general – the welfare state, free university education and good care of the elderly, for example.

“A lot of Norwegians, like many people in small countries, feel very strongly about the right to self- determination so I think there’s a huge amount of sympathy for Scottish independence in Scandin-avia just now.”

With an independent Scotland, Scots and Norwegians would work even more closely, Tarvet suggests.

“I don’t think people here realise the extent of the links and co-operation between Scotland and countries like Norway and Denmark,” he said.

“In the energy sector, including renewables, there’s huge co-operation between our countries.

“We are working together on such things as pipelines and wind power, while there are dozens of conferences attended by people making links.”

The big difference is how the oil wealth is used: “The Norwegians have the ability to tap into the resources in the North Sea.

“They can use that for the benefit of their people, this is most notably through the Oil Fund. We, however, have to send a very large percentage of that income down to Westminster.

“We do not have the ability to use that money for the benefit of the people, so we cannot fund the welfare state in the way that Norway does.

“Yes, Norwegians pay more taxes, but they also have higher salaries and overall are better off.

“Having lived in Scandinavia for some years, I can say the people there are happy to pay those higher taxes because they still have the means to be comfortably off.

“An independent Scotland needs to look to our Nordic partners because they have shown a will and a determination that could be a model for us.”

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