Alex Salmond has been accused of massively overestimating the size of the North Sea oil reserves by a major oil tycoon, in a damning verdict that critics said "blew apart" the first minister's plans for an independent Scotland.
Scottish-born billionaire businessman Sir Ian Wood said that Scotland had only 15 years of oil left before the depletion of its reserves would hurt jobs and the economy, arguing that oil and gas reserves over the next five years would be 40% less than what the Scottish government predicts.
Although Salmond predicts there are 24 billion barrels of oil left in the North Sea, Sir Ian suggested there would only be enough for 15 to 16.5 billion barrels in a "best outcome". This would work out to £370 less for every man, woman and child every year in an independent Scotland.
Sir Ian's intervention is especially awkward for Salmond as he welcomed the oil tycoon's report, which he wrote for the UK government earlier this year, on how to maximise North Sea oil production.
The oil tycoon told Energy Voice: "Young voters in the referendum will only be in their 40s when they will see the significant rundown in the Scottish offshore oil and gas sector, and the serious implications for our economy, jobs and public services."
"Indeed, the rundown impact will begin to be felt by 2030, which is only 15 years from now."
Despite claiming “no allegiance to any party or campaign”, Sir Ian suggested that the pro-unionist campaign was winning the Scottish independence debate in terms of offering "growth and economic success".
“Against these measures, it’s very hard not to conclude the case is heavily weighted towards Scotland remaining in the UK and getting the best of both worlds – I want the best for future generations of Scots," he added.
Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, head of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said the oil tycoon's analysis "fatally undermines" Salmond's oil predictions and his remarks "blow apart Alex Salmond's plans for funding schools and hospitals."
In response to Sir Ian, Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told the BBC there is "a wealth of expert opinion on the huge scale of Scotland's long-term oil and other energy reserves".
He added: "This is ultimately a debate about exactly how big Scotland's remaining oil reserves are, and most countries are not nearly lucky enough to be in that fortunate position."
The blow to Salmond's Scottish independence plans over his oil predictions comes as a think-tank suggests that his idea of using the pound without a formal currency union could give an independent Scotland a more stable economy.
A new report from the Adam Smith Institute said that "sterlingisation", combined with reforms to banking regulations, could lead to banks taking fewer risks, reducing the likelihood of future financial crises.
Sam Bowman, research director at the Adam Smith Institute and the author of the report, said Scotland was "almost uniquely primed for such a system of 'adaptive sterlingisation'".
The prospect of Scotland using the pound with the formal agreement of the rest of the UK, and without the back-up of having the Bank of England as a lender of last resort, was raised as Salmond comes under increasing pressure in the run-up to next month's referendum to set out an alternative to a currency union.
The three main parties at Westminster have repeatedly said they would not sign up to such an agreement with Scotland if it left the UK, leading to demands for the First Minister to state his "plan B", which he has indicated would be to use the pound without a formal currency union.
Bowman said: "The Scottish independence debate has repeatedly foundered on the question of currency, but if Scots look to their own history they will find that their country is a shining example of how competition in currency and banking can ensure a stable and effective banking system.
"Scotland's free banking era was an economic and intellectual golden age, and its system of competitive note-issuance was recognised by such thinkers as Adam Smith as one of the root causes of the country's prosperity during this time."
He continued: "The examples of Panama and other dollarised Latin American economies are proof that countries can thrive when they unilaterally adopt another country's currency.
"Combined with a flexible, adaptive banking system, the unilateral use of another country's currency can instil a discipline in a country's financial sector that neither a national currency nor a currency union can provide. Scotland's banking system is almost uniquely primed for such a system of 'adaptive sterlingisation'.
The SNP's Westminster Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said it was a "very interesting report".
But he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland: "While this determines that Scotland could use sterling in any circumstances, it is one of the viable options, a formal currency union remains the best one."
The American electorate may have gone off their president after five and a half years in office but Barack Obama still enjoys 2008 levels of popularity in the UK. People from the No Campaign probably fainted when Obama said "the key word is 'united'" when asked about Scotland.
Austin Powers may be against independence but James Bond isn't. Sir Sean has told his fellow Scots that independence "is too good an opportunity to miss". He also said the potential boosts to the film and creative industries are "particularly exciting".
"I would hate to have you lose Scotland," the potential next American president told Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. "I hope that it doesn't happen but I don't have a vote in Scotland. But I would hope it doesn't happen." She added: "I would think it would be a loss for both sides but, again, I don't have a vote."
The face of BBC science has not declared for or against Scottish independence but his namesake, actor Brian Cox is firmly in favour of it. He has provided the voice of Duggy Dog, an animated Highland Terrier created by the Yes campaign who aims to "sniff out fact from fiction" in the independence debate.
Since dabbling in right-wing politics in the 1970s, Bowie's views appear to have mulled somewhat. When Kate Moss collected his BRIT award earlier this year, she read a statement on behalf that asked Scotland to "stay with us". The statement said: "In Japanese myth the rabbits from my old costume that Kate's wearing live on the moon. Kate comes from Venus and I from Mars, so that's nice. I'm completely delighted to have a Brit for being the best male, but I am, aren't I Kate? I think it's a great way to end the day. Thank you very, very much and Scotland - stay with us."
This Scot is firmly pro-independence. So much so, the New York-based actor bought a flat in Edinburgh last year so he would be able to vote in September's referendum. Unfortunately, it was deemed not to be his "main address" and, by extension, he will not be able to vote.
JK Rowling, who wrote her first Harry Potter book while living in Edinburgh and still lives in the Scottish capital, has given £1 million to defeat Alex Salmond. She wrote she was "no fan of the Westminster government". She added: "The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same 21st century pressures as the rest of the world. The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks." A Twitter account digested this and reflected: "What a #bitch after we gave her shelter in our city when she was a single mum."
Always outspoken, Bragg's take on Scottish independence is that it would be as good for his native England as it would for north of the border. The left-winger said: "Scottish independence throws up the possibility of a more progressive England. We won’t be British any more, we’ll be English."
On Sunday, 2,000 people gathered outside BBC Scotland's Glasgow headquarters to protest what they saw as its pro-union stance. A couple who attended the protest said: "The BBC is paid for by all of us whether Yes or No but it doesn’t reflect both sides of the campaign. They don't cover stories that damage No, but are always headlining stories against Yes."
Pope Francis voiced concerns about Scottish independence - but his comments were non-commital to the point where both the yes and no camps welcomed them. Speaking about secession movements across the world, the infallable representative of God on earth said countries breaking away from larger states should be considered on a "case-by-case basis". He acknowledged the case was "clear" in in some cases but listed Scotland as one of the cases where "I ask myself it is so clear". He said: "Let's think of the former Yugoslavia. Obviously, there are nations with cultures so different that couldn't even be stuck together with glue. "The Yugoslavian case is very clear, but I ask myself if it is so clear in other cases - Scotland, Padania, Catalunya." No campaigners said the Pope was "right to warn about the impact of division" while No campaigners said: "As His Holiness says, these matters should be looked at on a case-by-case basis."
The Sunday Herald became the first Scottish paper to back the yes campaign in May with this front cover. It wrote: "We understand the past, as best we can, and guess at the future. But history is as nothing to the lives of the children being born now, this morning, in the cities, towns and villages of this country. "On their behalf, we assert a claim to a better, more decent, more just future in which a country's governments will be ruled always by the decisions of its citizens.''
Sir Sean appeared to win an ally when Lord of The Rings actor Elijah Wood said Scotland should "fucking go for it" with independence. But he later backtracked, claiming he had misunderstood the question he was asked at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Speaking to the Scotsman, he said: "You know, in truth, I thought they were talking about independent cinema. I mean, it’s a film festival.”