By Sarah Young and Andy Bruce
LONDON (Reuters) - The boss of BP, Britain's second biggest oil company, warned on Tuesday that Scottish independence could cause his company "uncertainties" and said he did not want to see Scotland drifting away.
Bob Dudley's comments marked a rare foray into the debate on Scottish independence among heads of major British companies, who have so far sidestepped the issue.
"We have a lot of people in Scotland. We have a lot of investments in Scotland. My personal view is that Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together," the BP chief executive, who is American, told the BBC.
Uncertainty around currency issues could affect the company and if Scotland became independent, it would mean additional costs for BP, Dudley told reporters later.
"It does not seem the right thing to me for the country (Scotland) to drift off. That's not a company view, that's from me," he added.
Scottish government leader Alex Salmond is leading the independence drive, arguing that Scots will be better off in charge of their own finances, which he sees benefiting from Scotland's majority share of the oil off the coast of Britain.
Salmond said Dudley was "entitled to his personal opinion" on Scottish independence.
"The main thing is that BP has got massive investment planned in Scottish waters, and rightly so, because they make lots of money from exploiting the national resources," Salmond told BBC News.
"And of course, there are many, many chief executives who are firmly in favour of Scottish independence."
But British Chancellor George Osborne said Dudley's comments were another sign that a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom - comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland - would not work.
"That is a further example of the potential economic damage of independence and the cost to the people of Scotland of independence," he said of Dudley's remarks in comments to a parliamentary committee.
Osborne also said an independent Scotland would have to pay a higher premium for its government debt than the British government, adding that would be a consequence of a weaker independent Scottish presence in international debt markets.
Salmond has proposed that Scotland form a currency union with Britain in the event of independence.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney last week offered his economic analysis, raising the potential challenges of a currency union if Scotland kept the pound.
BP, which reported weaker profits earlier on Tuesday, remains a big investor in Britain's North Sea waters, where production peaked in 1999.
The company is one of the investors in the 4.5 billion pound ($7.35 billion) Clair Ridge project, which is under development off the coast of Scotland. On Tuesday Dudley called the Scottish oil town of Aberdeen "the heartland of the offshore oil and gas industry".
(Editing by Gareth Jones)