WE FORGET during the halcyon days of Scotland's independence referendum, when we were offered independence and decided to give it back, that fake news was big here long before it took hold in America.
Our very own oil well of geophysical knowledge, Bella Caledonia, estimated rather conservatively that there was £4 trillion pounds worth of oil out there in the Scottish Atlantic Margin.
Under the Clyde was a secret oilfield blocked by the MoD because of the UK's Trident submarine programme. There was oil galore and that lot doon in London was hiding it. David Cameron, no less, flew up to Shetland to check it was still there (pictured - it really happened) and disguised his trip with a pony trek but some felt they knew why he was really here.
They still are it seems. Worse they are actively destroying the North Sea industry if we are still to believe this tin foil wrapped nonsense.
The UK has given very generous tax concessions to oil firms to help them decommission old rigs, notwithstanding low oil prices due to American fracking have driven down crude prices and have made offshore oil production very expensive.
There is nothing to cheer about this, it is a real threat to the long-term prosperity of Scotland and even more so if we left the UK now. This does not excuse the Yes camp's claims though. The secret oilfield was pure Eldorado, a prefabricated nonsense and there are quite obvious reasons why.
It was clear in 2014 that US oil and gas production was soaring and that with a sluggish global economy high oil prices would not last. It was a matter of when, not if, prices would tumble. Oil revenues from production in the Scottish fields have fallen precipitously over the last few years, as has production as those fields have matured.
Since the 1990s oil extraction technology has changed markedly. Horizontal drilling now allows hard-to-reach fields to be tapped at considerable distance. Wytch Farm in England is an onshore oilfield producing about 3m tonnes of oil a year, yet almost 20 years ago it tapped into fields in the English Channel over 11km from land using horizontal drilling.
Using technology the English so fiendishly used 20 years ago, tunneling horizontal wells from Arran and Ayrshire could access the whole of the Firth of Clyde without a single offshore well being drilled, It hasn't been used in the Clyde because there is nothing there worth drilling for.
There has been almost no commercial exploration for oil in recent years because of low prices. Iraq and Libya have huge reserves and once stable these countries will pump out ever more into Europe's market. Russia has every incentive to maximise production and American fracking is set to continue for several decades. The world is now awash with cheap oil and global peace and open trade means there is a lot more out there which can be extracted at a much cheaper cost than in deep north sea ridges and troughs.
Almost nothing is mentioned about oil now. Everything has turned to Europe until we leave, and then it will doubtless turn to some other MacGuffin. It's the end goal that has always mattered to the SNP and everything between now and then is only as permanent as it is useful.
Maybe this is why the fake oil news has dried up. Maybe this is why horizontal drilling has never been mentioned by the SNP. Maybe the reality is oil is no longer a marketing ploy for Scottish nationalism especially now the minority government is reliant on green support. The SNP has struggled to set a credible policy on fracking not to mention GM or indeed anything that requires a basic knowledge of science way above the level of the lentil-munching sandal-wearing watermelons they rely on.
It is hard to see where the next bag of tricks will come from. The easy money and quick fixes the SNP need to keep the hopes of an independent Scotland alive are drying up because, like that secret oil field, they never existed except in the minds of the faithful.