In less than a month the Scottish referendum on independence will take place. With emotions running high, the question of what happens to the North Sea's oil and gas reserves if Scotland votes 'Yes' remains a key part of the debate.
The oil and gas industry employs approximately 450,000 people in the U.K., and in 2012/13 paid £6.5 billion ($10.8 billion) in taxes.
More than 40 billion barrels of oil and gas have already been extracted, and according to estimates from Oil and Gas U.K., the offshore industry's trade association, there could be as many as 24 billion barrels of oil and gas left.
For the pro-independence campaign, the value of these reserves – potentially as much as £1.5 trillion according to the Scottish government – would help ensure economic stability and security for Scotland. This figure has been disputed by those campaigning to keep Scotland part of the U.K.
Earlier this week Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, emphasized the importance of oil and gas to an independent Scotland.
"The reality is North Sea oil and gas will be with us way beyond 2050," he said in a televised debate. "Every other country in Europe would give its 'eye teeth' to have North Sea oil and gas. It cannot be regarded as anything other than a substantial asset for Scotland."
Those in the 'No' camp claim that placing such importance on oil and gas is a potentially risky strategy, with the Better Together campaign stating, "Not only will North Sea oil and gas eventually run out, its value is notoriously volatile... independence would be forever, oil is not."