SCOTLAND'S missed oil opportunities are under the spotlight as campaigners call for Rishi Sunak to nationalise the UK energy sector.

As the biggest energy companies record £7 billion in profits, the country's poorest families face the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades - and anti-privatisation group We Own It (WOI) is calling for a windfall tax on energy suppliers.

The campaigners' petition is calling for a permanent windfall tax of 56% on energy firms while also demanding the UK Government stop “wasting money bailing out failing energy supply giants” and for Sunak to “set up a publicly owned energy supplier instead”.

And with the vast majority of UK oil being found in Scottish waters, the energy scandal has given an edge to arguments supporting independence, with many highlighting missed opportunities from Scotland’s oil resources.

WOI is not the only group up in arms over the current energy crisis with a number of Scottish political parties slating the Tories' energy tax policies.

Commenting on the oil and gas businesses' “obscene” profits, Scottish Greens energy and climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “The tax contribution these firms are complaining about is a drop in the North Sea cash cow, and they should be expected to contribute more.

“I welcome the fact that the case for a windfall tax has finally reached the Treasury in-tray, and I hope the UK Government will also recognise that to achieve energy security and address the cost of living and climate crises we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels with their volatile prices and invest in clean renewable energy, creating long term jobs for the future.”

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Our North Sea neighbour

Comparisons are often drawn between Scotland and Norway, a country that used its North Sea oil profits to set up a sovereign wealth fund for its citizens.

The Scandinavian country chose to invest all surplus revenue from its oil and gas sector into a public pension fund, which amounted to $250,000 per citizen as of December 2021.

And our Norwegian neighbour collects significantly more tax from energy companies. Firms in Norway pay a corporation rate of 22% and a special levy of 56% which effectively amounts to a permanent windfall tax - the kind campaigners are calling for in the UK. 

The progressive Norwegian rates mean that for every £8 the UK collects in tax on barrels of oil, Norway takes £100.

Norway has also taken the opportunity to invest in developing its hydropower resources, resulting in 98% of the country’s energy being renewable.

Norway's relative success in handling its natural resources becomes all the more apparent in light of the McCrone report - a document made public in 2005 and written in 1974 on behalf of the UK Government - which gave a positive economic forecast for an independent Scotland, largely due to its oil potential. The report stated Scotland would have a "chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree and its currency would become the hardest in Europe".

A radically different approach was taken in the UK, where private companies and shareholders were the direct beneficiaries of oil reserves.

"This is a national scandal"

Commenting on the current state of the UK’s energy policy, Alba party leader Alex Salmond said: “One third of households are right now being plunged into fuel poverty in the all-energy capital of Europe. This is a national scandal which cannot be allowed to stand.

“Scotland is five times self-sufficient in oil and gas and can already power every home in the country from renewable electricity.

“In what universe, therefore, does rising hydrocarbon prices make Scots poorer?

“Why has the 54% hike in Scottish electricity bills been dictated by the world price of gas?

“The reality is that our resources are controlled by international capital, the revenues are appropriated by Westminster and Scots are left to pick up the tab.”

The SNP have been contacted for comment.