THE SNP will this week formally call on the UK Government to set out a timescale to complete the devolution of oil and gas so that significant remaining North Sea reserves can be used to drive investment for the future.

The move follows the news that oil and gas is not about to run out any time soon but will in fact last at least another 20 years with the right stewardship.

While powers over onshore oil and gas licensing were transferred to Holyrood through the Scotland Act 2016 – allowing the Scottish Government to prevent fracking from happening under people’s homes – offshore licensing and taxation remain reserved to Westminster.

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The SNP has pointed to the huge potential in terms of reserves remaining in the North Sea, which the Oil and Gas Authority said this week would last at least another 20 years with proper stewardship. The party has said Scotland faces a choice between billions being squandered by the UK Government or the opportunity of devolving powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Maureen Watt MSP for Aberdeen South, pictured below, whose constituency is the base for much of the North Sea’s oil and gas operations, has said that granting offshore licensing and taxation to Holyrood would be the “natural next phase of devolution” – allowing Scotland to determine how best to use its natural resources.

The National:

The recent UK Budget pointed to an estimated £15 billion in tax revenues over the next six years which could, under plans set out by the SNP’s Growth Commission, be invested in a Fund for Future Generations to be administered through Scotland’s new National Investment Bank.

“North Sea oil and gas took millions of years to form – and yet we face the real risk of its remaining potential being squandered in just the next two decades unless Scotland takes matters into our own hands,” said Watt.

“Devolving powers over oil and gas, including taxation and revenues, could be truly transformative.

“And it’s the natural next phase of devolution. We already have powers for the onshore sector – denying us the rights over our resource-rich waters makes no logical sense.

“The UK Government shouldn’t be exploiting North Sea oil for a quick buck, to help balance their books today while disregarding the long term impact.

“In fact, none of us has the right to waste such a valuable resource. That is why we should look seriously, and prudently, at a fund for future generations – to identify how we turn oil and gas wealth for the benefit of the least well off and our most deprived communities, not just for the multinationals and an uncaring London Government.

“Of course, the full powers of independence would give us this opportunity. But there is real opportunity in the here and now too that we mustn’t let pass.”

READ MORE: SNP urge Tory government to devolve North Sea oil revenues

A senior SNP source said it was time for the oil and gas industry “to start waking up to the benefits of spending its tax take here in Scotland”.

“We’ll never realise the true benefit when the tax take goes straight to the Treasury never to be seen again.

“That’s why it was so staggering to see Oil and Gas UK – the body who are supposed to stand up for the sector – roundly welcoming the UK Budget for doing nothing at all.

“What it does is open the door for next year’s Budget absolutely hammering the industry and increasing revenue taxes. The only way to get the best for the industry and the best for Scotland is to place oil and gas fully in the hands of Scottish Parliament for good.”