Finance Secretary John Swinney yesterday backed a new report saying an independent Scotland should set up an oil fund even if the country's finances were in the red.
Government sources suggested around £200 million would be paid into the long-term investment fund in its first year, possibly 2017/18.
The move was criticised by Alistair Darling, the former chancellor and head of the Better Together pro-UK campaign, who said the plan to borrow and save at the same time flew in the face of common sense.
But accepting proposals from the Government's Fiscal Commission Working Group expert panel, Mr Swinney said: "Their report recommends that a savings fund should be established immediately following independence.
"This would allow an independent Scotland to consider investing modest sums into a savings fund without an offsetting change to public spending or taxation."
Confirming his commitment to the move, he said Scotland's deficit could be brought down sufficiently to allow a payment in 2017/18 without the need to cut public spending or increase taxes.
Officials highlighted the £220m initial payment made by Norway to launch its oil fund in 1990 as an indication of the Scottish Government's plan. The Norwegian fund has since grown to £470 billion.
The Fiscal Commission Working Group said two oil funds should be created.
A portion of North Sea tax revenues would go into a "stabilisation fund" designed to smooth out big year-to-year differences which, for example, saw the UK earn £12.9bn in 2008/9 and £6.5bn in 2009/10.
Another slice would go into the savings fund, earmarked for major projects.
Investing oil wealth in a long-term fund has been a key SNP policy for many years.
Earlier this year First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland was on the cusp of a second oil boom, though the claim was questioned by economists.
A recent UK Treasury study suggested an independent Scotland would be able to build up a fund worth £32bn, at today's prices, by 2040/41 if all oil revenues were saved into it. However, it warned payments should not start immediately because of the state of Scotland's finances.
In a blog on the Better Together website, Mr Darling said an oil fund was unaffordable without "big tax rises or big cuts".
Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: "The Scottish Government appears to want to put one half of oil revenues in a short-term stabilisation fund and the other half in a long term fund for future generations, upon independence it would need the whole lot just to keep the country running."
However it was welcomed by Blair Jenkins, head of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign, who said the failure to create an oil fund in the 1980s, when revenues were at their height, was a "damning indictment" of previous governments.
l NEW figures suggest Scotland contributes less in tax to the UK Treasury than previously thought.
Statistics from HMRC - which officials admitted were "experimental" - showed Scotland contributed 9.8% of UK tax receipts, including North Sea revenues, in 2011/12.
The figure was slightly lower than the 9.9% recorded in the Scottish Government's annual Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland report.