YOU do not have to look hard to see the myriad effects of weak oil prices. These range from thousands of job cuts in the North Sea, a sorry state of affairs, to a fall in revenues in FirstGroup’s Greyhound long-distance coach business because lower gasoline prices are encouraging North Americans to use their cars more often.

Most days, it seems, there is another piece of grim news relating to the North Sea or the wider global oil sector.

This week, we have heard Saudi Arabia emphasise again that it is not going to be cutting production to support crude prices, with the kingdom signalling it will continue to pump enough oil to retain its global market share.

And the International Energy Agency this week laid out its central scenario of benchmark oil prices recovering to about $80 a barrel by 2020.

While this is better than the current situation, with North Sea Brent trading around $45 a barrel, it is hardly an uplifting or even reassuring forecast.

The heads of the big oil companies and smaller players in the North Sea have, by highlighting the significant chance that crude prices will stay low for a long time, been signalling they are preparing for the worst even if they are still hoping for the best.

We should not underestimate just how widely the effects of low crude prices are being felt in the corporate world.

Glasgow-based engineering company Weir Group last week highlighted the continuing impact of low crude prices on its orders from the oil and gas sector, as shale activity in North America remains depressed.

And Scottish temporary power company Aggreko has this week cited the upstream oil and gas sector as a weaker market at the moment.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen-based bus and rail company FirstGroup yesterday highlighted once again the impact of low oil prices on its North American business. Its First Transit division has been affected by reduced activity in the Canadian oil sands region, with less demand for its shuttle services for workers at these sites.

And FirstGroup also spelled out the major impact that low oil prices are having on Greyhound, as North Americans fall back in love with their cars on the back of those cheaper prices at the pump.

FirstGroup reported that Greyhound’s revenues in the six months to September 30 were, in US currency terms, down by 6.2 per cent on the same period of the prior financial year at $482 million (£312m).

Meanwhile, as Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute economic think-tank have highlighted, the lowly oil price is causing real troubles for the economy north of the Border.

In most other parts of the UK, the economy is benefiting from the impact of cheaper fuel on spending power without the downside of being hammered directly by the decline in oil and gas activity, and its knock-on effect on services companies and spending in the likes of shops and hotels.

Fraser of Allander warned last week that growth in Scotland had begun to “diverge quite markedly” from overall UK expansion as low oil prices weighed.

It noted that the Scottish economy had slowed both in absolute terms and relative to the UK. The divergence with the UK, Fraser of Allander pointed out, had occurred even though expansion in the UK as a whole was slowing significantly.

The think-tank highlighted the drag on Scottish growth from “lower for longer” oil prices. And it underlined the knock-on impact of weak crude prices on Scotland’s business services sector.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce, publishing its quarterly economic survey late last month, declared that the findings of weaker manufacturing growth and declining confidence among services firms amounted to an “amber warning light” for the UK and Scottish Governments.

It highlighted the continuing impact of the oil and gas sector’s troubles on the broader Scottish economy. And we should remember the UK economy as a whole is in no great shape at all, with growth having slowed sharply between the second and third quarters.

Brian Ashcroft, economics editor of the Fraser of Allander commentary, last week called on the Bank of England to continue to hold benchmark UK interest rates at a record low of 0.5 per cent, and urged Chancellor George Osborne to think again about his planned £4.4 billion per annum of cuts in tax credits.

Mr Ashcroft flagged the negative impact of the Chancellor’s planned £12bn of further cuts in annual welfare spending, which include the proposed reductions in tax credits, on domestic demand and UK economic growth. These cuts will hit low-income households.

He said: “The overall plan is to take £12 billion out of the economy, which is quite large. Tax credits are quite a large component of that. You are taking money away from individuals who would spend that money, whereas other people with more money would save more of it.”

Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane made it clear again last night that he did not see a need for a swift rise in base rates. He declared that even the rise in wage growth seen through this year appeared to have subsided somewhat over recent months.

Even with base rates at a record low, many households remain under real strain, having in the wake of the financial crisis suffered what Mr Haldane noted had been “one of the largest and longest squeezes on wages” since at least 1850.

So with the billions of pounds of ill-judged cuts in tax credits looming, as Mr Osborne weighs his reaction to votes by the House of Lords to delay the moves, any kind of increased spending power will be vital to mitigating the huge damage to growth from the continuing slashing of welfare spending.

You would imagine Mr Osborne and his Government, in this context, might well welcome the ongoing weakness of oil prices given it reduces the costs of hard-pressed households.

That is before we even get to the continuing debate over Scottish independence, and the key part oil prices tend to play in this.

All of this gives rise to an intriguing question: Do the Holyrood and Westminster Governments actually have the same views on where they would like oil prices to go in the short term?