SCOTLAND'S oil and gas industry has increased exports to £10 billion, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will announce today, as ministers launch a major new drive to persuade voters of the economic case for independence.

The oil and gas sector recorded a 22% increase in international sales in 2012/13, according to the latest annual survey by development agency Scottish Enterprise.

The new figures show exports now account for over half of sales from Scotland, at a record 50.2%.

Loading article content

They come at the start of a week in which the Scottish Government will seek to highlight the country's economic strength.

Papers showing the success of Scotland's life sciences and financial services sectors are also due to be published in the coming days as part of an effort to persuade Scots that the country's long-term economic prospects are sound.

The latest oil and gas figures are due to be announced by Mr Ewing at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, where he is leading a trade delegation of 63 companies from Scotland working in the oil and gas services sector.

He said: "The value of this activity to the economy and exchequer is substantial. Scotland is leading the way in the world of oil and gas and has a clear competitive advantage in this truly global industry.

"There are huge opportunities open to us internationally and we are determined to make the most of them. The Scottish Government recognises the substantial contribution that the oil and gas industry makes to our economy. Our objective is to make clear that Scotland's oil and gas wealth is not just the resources that we extract but the expertise that we have built up."

A report last month from industry body Oil and Gas UK showed the industry was worth £35bn in 2012. The latest figures come as the Scottish Government prepares to publish updated forecasts for North Sea tax revenues in the years ahead.

Scottish Government estimates - used to by ministers to make the case for independence - were first published more than a year ago.

The figures are considerably more optimistic than the latest Office for Budget Responsibility projections used by the UK Government.

Finance Secretary John ­Swinney said: "This week we will set out new figures on overseas sales of oil and gas, we will focus on the potential of our life sciences industry and we will demonstrate the responsible approach this Scottish Government will always take to Scotland's finances.

"With the powers of a national economy we can use that talent and those resources to build a more secure economy and create more opportunities.

"It is only with independence that we can have a real plan for Scotland's economy."