Scottish independence: so whose oil is it anyway?
Try having a conversation about Scottish independence, and see how long it lasts before the word 'oil' features. You're not likely to be kept waiting long.
This is a city that might not smell of oil, but you can see smell the wealth it's generated. Many of the buildings in the city centre are not just granite but grandiose; not just imposing but imperious.
We get chatting to a bunch of Aberdonians cowering outside a bingo hall, cigarettes in hand. The question 'so whose oil is it anyway?' is incendiary. For some it's an invitation for analysis. For many it's an invitation for passion. "Scotland's!" shouts one woman instinctively. Many of those we spoke to agreed. And yet for others, to answer the question with a 'yes' is to be in favour of independence. We put the question to one guy who was instantly defiant. "It's British!" he said, with a smirk, anticipating my next question. "And yes, I want to keep the union!"
We head next to Aberdeen University, to meet Alex Kemp. Alex is a Professor of Petroleum Economics and so can answer what struck us as the three big questions relating to North Sea oil and Scottish independence. How much is left? How long will it last? And, yes, whose oil is it anyway?
To paraphrase a career's worth of research in sentence: about a third of it is left, it'll last about 40 years and the vast majority of it is in Scottish waters.
But when we spoke to Jake Molloy, who spent 17 years working offshore and is now the regional organiser for the RMT trade union, which represents oil workers, he had more questions for us than we had for him. For Jake, the uncertainties surrounding possible independence are almost infinite. How would the oil industry be taxed in an independent Scotland? Would the multinational companies that run many of the platforms take fright? What would be the impact on the scores of workers from elsewhere - including England, Wales and Northern Ireland? The 26,000 people, who spent weeks at a time on the rigs in the North Sea, are asking these questions, Jake told us. There are hundreds of thousands working in, or supporting, the industry at large.
Chris is travelling with 5 live producer Chris Brindley.