David Cameron has said the UK's broad shoulders will ensure investment in the North Sea oil and gas industry as he prepares to announce a range of measures to boost oil production.
The Government claims that the country's large consumer and tax base will allow it to support the industry and help exploit the increasingly hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves, as it bids to increase support for the No vote on Scottish Independence.
"For many years the UK has supported the North Sea oil and gas industry and we have worked together to make this an economic success the whole country can be proud of," Mr Cameron said.
"I promise we will continue to use the UK's broad shoulders to invest in this vital industry so we can attract businesses, create jobs, develop new skills in our young people and ensure we can compete in the global race."
The Prime Minister will use retired oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood's review of the oil and gas industry to announce measures to boost production ahead of the vote on Scottish Independence.
Measures in the review, which the UK Government says it will accept and fast-track for implementation, include:
- The creation of a new independent regulator to supervise licensing and to ensure maximum collaboration between firms to explore and develop oil and gas fields
- Recommends a reduction in red tape for the industry
- Greater sharing of infrastructure and geophysical information
- A Government and industry commitment to ensure licences are awarded on the basis of recovering the maximum amount of petroleum from UK waters
It is claimed the measures could result in up to four billion more barrels being recovered, bringing in over £200 billion to the UK economy.
David Cameron will today set out plans to boost oil production in the North Sea as he uses energy as the latest battleground in the Scottish Independence campaign.
The Prime Minister, who is due to hold a Cabinet meeting in Aberdeen, is expected to accept the main recommendations of an expert review of the industry that could result in an extra four million barrels of oil being recovered.
The announcement is timed to coincide with retired oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood's review of the oil and gas industry.
Mr Cameron has warned that volatility in the oil market could severely hit Scottish finances in the event of independence, claiming the "broad shoulders" of the UK Government could ensure investment in the industry.
The Scottish oil and gas industry has been pulled to the centre of the increasingly fraught battle over the country's independence.
The Prime Minister is preparing to hold a Cabinet meeting in Scotland for only the third time in history tomorrow.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond tells ITV News Scotland Correspondent Debi Edward he wants to debate David Cameron on the issue of Scottish independence.
"The best way to debate is actually to have the act of debate. I think the Prime Minister has an obligation to debate myself as First Minister," he said.
Scotland is doing very well as part of the UK, the State of Secretary for Scotland told ITV News, as the Prime Minister is due to take his Cabinet to Scotland tomorrow urging the government to stay in the UK.
Alistair Carmichael said that as part of the United Kingdom, "we have come through a very difficult time, but we are now seeing better times ahead".
People in Scotland are increasingly seeing through Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond's "false promises", the director of the Better Together Campaign has said, after an ICM poll revealed that support for a No vote climbed to 49% in the last month. Blair McDougall said:
It is encouraging that undecideds, the group of Scots who are key to this referendum, are overwhelmingly moving in favour of Scotland remaining a strong and proud part of the UK.
People in Scotland now know that a vote to leave the UK is a vote to lose the strength, security and stability of the Pound. That means higher prices, more expensive mortgages and fewer jobs.
The UK does not need more barriers in energy investment, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint told ITV News, as the Prime Minister and his Cabinet are due to hold talks over Scotland independence tomorrow.
Ms Flint said that the UK shares the "risks" and the "rewards" with Scotland, adding "the sum total of that is a good energy policy across Scotland, England and Wales".
The campaign for Scottish independence is losing momentum as the no vote gains support, according to an ICM poll in the Scotsman.
The newspaper says that support for a No vote has climbed 49% in the last month. With the pro-independence side remaining unchanged a significant number of undecided voters appear to have shifted to No.
The ICM poll of 1,004 Scots was carried out between 17 and 21 February and follows separate polling across the UK which shows most Brits wants Scotland to stay in the union.
The poll did find optimism that Scotland would be able to continue using the pound and would be able to secure EU membership, despite warnings to the contrary on both issues.