Shell wants Scotland to stay in the UK

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Oil giant Shell wants Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, its chief executive has said.

Ben van Beurden is said to have highlighted the importance of “stability and certainty” as he set out why the firm wanted Scotland to continue in the UK and for the UK to remain in the European Union.

His remarks make him the latest leading figure from the business world to intervene in the debate over Scotland’s future.

Voters north of the border will decide if the country remains in UK in a referendum on September 18.

Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed putting the UK’s continued membership of the EU to the electorate in an in/out referendum if the Tories win the 2015 general election.

Mr van Beurden told the BBC: “We’re used to operating in uncertain political and economic environments. But, given a choice, we want to know as accurately as possible what investment conditions will look like 10 or 20 years from now. That’s the chief reason we’re in favour of the UK maintaining its long-established place at the heart of the European Union: it provides greater investment stability and certainty.”

The oil company boss added: “It’s for similar reasons that we’d like to see Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom.

“Shell has a long history of involvement in the North Sea - and therefore in Scotland - and we continue to invest more than a billion pounds there every year.”

His remarks come after BP chief executive Bob Dudley claimed there were ‘’quite big uncertainties’’ over issues such as currency, European links and tax regimes if Scotland was to vote for independence.

But last week Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways’ parent company, said a Yes vote in September could be a “positive development”.

Mr Walsh, the chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), said he suspected that could lead to the Scottish Government abolishing air passenger duty, so independence “might be marginally positive”.