“EVEN if we’re to extract every last drop of oil and gas from the North Sea,” said the Scottish Net Zero Secretary Michael Mathieson last week, "it would have no impact on the wholesale price of gas”. Consequently, he went on, anyone who thinks increasing gas production would ease the energy crisis is “kidding themselves”. It wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to our energy bills.

Evidently the UK Government disagrees. Even before she becomes PM next week, Liz Truss is crying “drill baby, drill”. The Business Secretary (why don’t we have an Energy Secretary?) Kwasi Kwarteng has made clear that Ms Truss will approve a series of oil and gas drilling licences in the North Sea as part of a long-term plan to ensure Britain’s energy security. She also wants to speed up extraction from existing fields.

Our near neighbour, Norway, is doing the same. Indeed, the Norwegian government never stopped drilling for oil and gas despite its commitment to net zero – and its wealth of renewable energy.

We depend on Norway for 30 per cent of our gas. So it would seem to make sense to use our own instead of being forced to pay the exorbitant prices set indirectly by Vladimir Putin.

Well, you might think so, but not in the crazy world of international energy. We are apparently powerless before the might of the international gas market.

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Nor, according to Mr Mathieson’s logic, is there any point in hastening the development Scotland’s wind energy. That would not affect the world market price either. Indeed, to paraphrase the minister, if you harnessed all the wind on and off Scotland’s shores tomorrow it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to our energy bills because wind is pegged to gas too. Though curiously, Mr Mathieson is not saying we should just “leave it in the air”.

The UK is one of the few countries in the world taking the transition to renewable energy seriously, according to the International Energy Agency. It also says that, fossil fuels will be needed for some time yet –as we have discovered to our cost since Russia invaded Ukraine. Suddenly, security of supply is Europe’s number one concern

Nicola Sturgeon used to say that Scotland is “self-sufficient” in renewable energy – a claim almost as misleading as the £350 million on the Brexit bus. As Full Fact pointed out, only about half of the energy consumed in Scotland is renewable and much of that is nuclear. Most of us have gas central heating boilers. Then there are the three million cars.

But she is right that in about a decade and a half Scotland will be a renewable powerhouse. But not if the stuff is still priced in gas.

One of the untold stories of the energy crisis is the way Scotland’s environmental lairds and wind farm owners are making even bigger windfall profits right now than the oil majors. That’s because the price they sell at is pegged to that iniquitous world price, which is set by the assorted dictators and potentates who control our supply of gas and oil.

Go tell the people of Shetland. For the last decade, their island has been the poster child of renewable energy because it enjoys the strongest winds in the UK. Yet Shetland consumers are facing bills of £10,000 this winter. They’ll each need to earn £100 grand a year to keep out of fuel poverty. Environmentalists point to Shetland as evidence of how easy it would be for Scotland to do without fossil fuels. Not with our energy market it isn't.

This is completely insane. The idea that this country shouldn’t generate energy from our own prodigious hydrocarbon and renewable resources is clearly nonsensical. It is obvious that using a nation’s domestic energy supply is preferable to importing it . And not just because then Vladimir Putin can’t shut it off.

Quite apart from the strategic considerations, importing oil and gas by tanker from pariah regimes like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar greatly increases our carbon footprint.

Moreover, oil and gas revenues, £13 billion this year, can be used to subsidise household bills. I am mystified that this has not been taken into account when people talk of the cost of halting this year's price rise. Ditto the tax revenues from the 100,000 mostly well-paid jobs in the energy sector. These will be lost if we continue to rely on exports.

Finally, having your own supply means you can always renegotiate the market price – as in America where shale gas has kept prices down. Britain used to be self-sufficient in oil and gas until about 2003. Most of the hydrocarbons have gone. But as the SNP regularly reminds us there is still about 20 billion barrels in Scottish waters – enough to keep the UK going for about 15 years.

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If it is so worthless, as Mr Mathieson says, you wonder why nationalists claim it has been stolen from Scotland? Indeed, why did the SNP base its programme for independence on Scotland’s oil and gas for fully 40 years?

Only last week Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that the expected £13bn in oil and gas revenues this year has transformed the prospects for an independent Scottish economy. But according to Mr Mathieson, Mr Swinney is just kidding himself.

Of course, in one narrow sense the Net Zero Secretary is right. The energy we consume, even “green” energy, is charged at the same wholesale price: the price per therm of gas. This is for complex reasons mainly to do with the fact that when the wind doesn’t blow we need energy and that means gas, since we closed the coal mines. (Whisper it, but some coal power stations may be needed this winter to prevent blackouts, as is the case in Germany.) Half our power still comes from gas and so everything is related to its marginal cost.

It is surely time to challenge this market logic. It is being exploited by Putin in an unconscious alliance with the big oil producers. It will be up to Liz Truss to rebalance it.

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