A trust is being planned to provide community spin-offs from any future onshore oil drilling operation off Lybster.
Caithness Oil last year mobilised a rig at Swiney to gauge the prospects for a commercial operation.
While the results were positive, the volatile economic climate and crude oil prices has put any future developments on hold. Community representatives have meanwhile decided to press ahead with the establishment of a trust fund.
It would be the means of channelling the community benefit dividend the firm agreed to provide if and when oil started coming ashore.
A meeting to inaugurate the fund has been arranged on Thursday at Lybster.
Latheron, Lybster and Clyth Community Council chairman Colin Sutherland said yesterday: “We have decided it would make sense to press on and set up the charitable trust.
“We’ve had no word of oil starting to be taken out but at least the trust will be ready when it does come on stream. One thing in their favour has been that oil prices have started to rise.”
Caithness Oil – a wholly-owned subsidiary of London-based Caithness Petroleum – has already donated £5,000 to the community council for distribution to local good causes.
Its £10million exploration involved a subsea link with the Lybster field, two miles away.
Chief operating officer Peter O’Sullivan revealed they have been eyeing other opportunities in the area.
This included plans to prospect the Knockinnon Field off Dunbeath.
An earlier geological survey found the Lybster field could yield between 3million to 5million barrels of oil and the Knockinnon field even more. If the Lybster field is developed, a nodding donkey-style plant would be mobilised with the oil taken ashore stored in tanks before hauled down the road to the terminal at Nigg.
It would be the first operation in Scotland to produce oil from the shore.
Thursday’s meeting for residents of postcodes KW3 and KW5 is in Lybster Bowling Club hall, starting 7.30pm.