Scotland’s gas and the tale of two economic models

by Russell Bruce

Or so it should be, because so small, so poor, so stupid Scotland, subsidized by Westminster, never gets credit for all the ways we have saved the rest of the UK. A quick check on Sunday afternoon revealed that we were supplying 17% of electricity to the national grid for England and Wales. Then there is the gas brought ashore at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire, which is far more than Scotland needs for its own gas consumption. We ship 70% of that to the rest of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Do we get thanks? Well that would be going too far. While we may somewhat accept that Scotland’s broad energy shoulders are keeping the lights on in England and helping delay those 3 days a week. Then there’s the supply of fuel to feed the gas stations and max out the UK’s car tanks. Diesel for their HGV they have real drivers. No, that would be too much, because any acknowledgment of Scotland’s contribution would not only undermine the very minor narrative, it would show the Westminster government that Brexit was bankrupt and they were running out of things to sell.

That’s the Johnson Tory way, and it’s no different than the Cameron and May Tory way. Find something to sell and tax breaks are funded for the needy rich. The only big thing left is the NHS – so be careful.

It doesn’t have to be this way because other countries run things for their national interest. The national interest is the interest of the entire population, not just those already well protected by the accumulation of wealth.

let me tell you a story

It was once a poor country in the north, one of the poorest countries in the world. They were hardworking people, but that was not enough, and many of the most talented and determined to improve their destinies decided to emigrate. You guessed it I was talking about Norway.

Norway does things differently even during the Conservative government, which has just lost power in the last elections after 8 years in power. Now with a $1.4 Trillion oil and gas fund, they have a wealth of shame wondering how best to manage the future as they continue to grow and grow. Just like the wealth of the richest people today, only this huge fund belongs to the people of Norway as a nest egg for the post-oil world.

This did not happen in England. Margaret Thatcher threw her against the wall, determined to defeat the influence of the unions. The workmanship was no better. When Prudence British Brown or Better Together Darling was in power, it was not a monetary amount at the UK level. There is no thought to protect the future.

The story of two oil experts and two countries with different economic competencies

Norway not only took a post-oil future planning measure, but also ensured that companies working in the Norwegian oil and gas fields were not limited to the proliferation of private sector oil companies. The Norwegians founded Statoil. BP was owned by the UK government until Margaret Thatcher sold it in two large tranches in 1979 and 1987.

Norway took a very different direction, establishing Statoil in 1972 to capitalize on and develop Norway’s upcoming North Sea bonanza. Statoil was listed on the Oslo and New York stock exchanges in 2001 and offered 33% of its shares to private and institutional investors. With the company increasingly working in the renewable energy sector, the name was changed to Equinor in 2018, but 67% remains owned by the Norwegian government. Today, Equinor is a stable company with more than 20,000 employees operating in 30 countries on 5 continents. Sorted by Equinor forbes As the world’s 169th largest company worth $63.7 Billion in 2020.

Now on top of the rising value of oil funds, Norway brings a lot of revenue from the oil and gas sector, and that’s the case for 2020 and 2021.

Note: SDFI stands for Direct Financial Interest of the Government

The Government’s Direct Financial Interest is a portfolio of exploration and production licenses directly owned by the Norwegian government for oil and gas on the Norwegian continental shelf. Petoro, the Norwegian government-owned company, has managed the SDFI portfolio since 2001.

sell all from UK

Conservatives, freelance marketers who don’t believe the government owns anything, that’s always been the main idea, and it’s no different than that, except that Johnson played the Joker from Thatcher to Thatcher’s Queen.

Had it been kept as an asset to the nation rather than selling its 51% majority stake in BP, then that 51% stake would have been worth £39.08 Billion at Friday’s closing price.

Conservatives in the UK have an entirely undeserved reputation for economic management. The truth is that they have no idea how to run a country for the benefit of the population in general. It’s not just Boris Johnson who is economically illiterate. Every UK Chancellor and Prime Minister going back decades has had a political rather than economic decisive policy and action that benefits the majority of the population.

Had it been kept as an asset to the nation rather than selling its 51% majority stake in BP, then that 51% stake would have been worth £39.08 Billion at Friday’s closing price. BP pays a generous dividend, so with the number of shares currently issued, the former 51% stake would have generated over $2 billion in dividend income last year alone. As an oil company, BP’s accounts and dividends are in dollars. That $2 billion dividend is just for one year’s worth of dividends, but the UK lost BP dividend income going back to the Thatcher years, resulting in billions in lost income.

Faced with raging gas and electricity prices, people need help

There is not the slightest hint that the UK Government is considering cutting costs and the choices many have to make this winter between food and fuel. UK energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he had spoken to the Treasury about aid for businesses but had to step back when the Treasury made it clear that there was no such discussion. According to the public, there was the Energy Price Ceiling as the only means of protection. The problem is Ofgem’s inability to ensure that energy retailers have adequate resources to deal with energy price fluctuations due to poor business models, as we discuss below. Gas prices rise in the UK.

The FT provided this chart in their energy bulletin. Brent’s soaring cost is masked by the scale needed to include other forms of energy. The sharp rise in the cost of coal and US natural gas also looks more modest than reality. Smuggled prices are the prices for Asian liquid natural gas and the price the UK has to pay to feed its gas-burning habit.

Thoughts are turning to the possibility that this could be a bad winter in the UK. That would be bad enough, but it’s not just about the UK having an extra cold winter. Energy and demand are globally linked. If there is an extremely cold winter in China, they will try to procure more gas from Russia and increase LNG imports, so the real danger is that the imports the UK will need to keep supply up with demand could be diverted elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Scotland will continue to provide our surplus gas supplies to the UK and the UK as it has a long-term plan to minimize fossil fuel use for heat and electricity.

So wee, so poor Scotland got some credit for helping save the other nations of the UK. Everyone in all UK countries needs a little help meeting their unexpectedly high fuel bills this winter, but so far all we have is assurance that the Energy Price Ceiling will not be raised before the next review time, April. Cold comfort. Warning signs would appear as December 20, as defined in the chart above. The UK government has kept their eyes and minds shut and is doing the same for all the people of these islands who really need direct financial support right now, as Spain, France, Italy and Greece have provided.

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