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The chief executive of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell on Wednesday dealt a blow to the campaign for Scottish independence by saying he would like it to remain part of the UK.
Speaking at the company's annual reception in London, Ben van Beurden explained that a vote for independence in the September referendum would introduce greater uncertainty into the North Sea oil industry, a crucial source of income for Scotland and Shell.
For similar reasons, he also said that he wanted Britons to vote to stay in the European Union during a possible referendum in 2017.
"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," he explained.
"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.
"It's for similar reasons that we'd like to see Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom," he added.
"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 ($1.67 billion, 1.21 billion euros) there every year."
Scots go to the polls on September 18 to decide whether to end their 300-year union with the rest of Britain.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, who heads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, on Tuesday insisted that his country could become an economic powerhouse despite all three of Britain's three main political parties saying they will not let an independent Scotland retain the pound.