The boss of Grangemouth refinery owners Ineos says Scotland will never be independent unless it embraces fracking.
Jim Ratcliffe says an outright ban on the controversial drilling technique will stymie any attempt to move from a deficit in Scotland’s economy to a surplus.
He has also accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of hypocrisy, after she accepted Ineos’ decision to import shale gas from the USA in order to save the Grangemouth refinery from closure.
The Scottish Government is currently enforcing a moratorium on fracking, and is due to publish a report on the long term environmental impact it could have within months.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “If I look at Scotland as an independent state, the North Sea is not what it was. At $50 a barrel, the North Sea rally doesn’t make any money - not much money - and secondly there is no investment going on, nobody wants to invest in the North Sea at $50 a barrel because it is an expensive base.
“Personally, I don’t see how the numbers can work at the moment without shale because the North Sea isn’t generating any revenue for Scotland and (independence) needs to have a profit and loss account which is in the black and not in the red.”
Ineos planned to shut down its Grangemouth refinery in 2013 following a dispute with staff, but U-turned on that decision to declare it would be spending £300 million funding losses and converting the plant so that it could accept shale gas from the Unites States.