The Scottish Government will today announce plans to kick start the hunt for oil off the west coast of Scotland.
Sir Ian Wood has already called on the new oil and gas regulator being set up by UK Government to “make the most” of new plays around the coast of the UK, including west of Hebrides.
But the SNP is looking to steal a march on their coalition counterparts at Westminster by teaming up with industry and academia to examine under-explored offshore areas.
While over 3,000 exploration wells have been drilled in the North Sea and West of Shetland, only around 20 exploration wells have been drilled to the west of the Scottish mainland – with many basins totally unexplored.
Last night Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the region could give the industry longevity beyond 2050.
The new areas to be explored include the Solway Firth, the Firth of Clyde, the North Channel and the Sea of the Hebrides.
The Scottish Government will co-host a workshop with Heriot Watt University’s Institute of Petroleum Engineering, and attended by the industry, to examine the potential for conventional oil and gas resources in these offshore waters.
Over the longer term, if future exploration of the inner seas to the west of the Scottish mainland proves successful, which could be further sustained by an examination of vast underexplored land towards Rockall, the potential for a new hydrocarbon province could help boost oil and gas production from Scottish waters.
“Stimulating oil and gas activity to the west of Scotland could create employment and further increase the longevity of the industry in the country,” Mr Ewing said.
“Furthermore, any future activity will be supported by Scotland’s world-class indigenous supply chain with forty years of experience in the North Sea.”
Professor John Howell, chair in petroleum geology at Aberdeen University, said the area to the west of Scotland includes several major basins with hydrocarbon potential.
“While over 3,000 exploration wells have been drilled in the North Sea and West of Shetland, only around 20 exploration wells have been drilled to the west of the Scottish mainland – with many basins totally unexplored,” he said.
“This provides significant future potential which can only be appraised with detailed scientific study. This workshop is the first step along the path to unleash that potential.”
The Scottish Government welcomes the industry’s participation in the West of Scotland Oil and Gas Workshop, and encourages further interested companies to contact the Scottish Government’s Oil and Gas Division for further information.
Professor Dorrik Stow, head of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering, added: “We look forward to being part of a wide collaboration with industry, universities and government to gain a better understanding of the prospects for oil and gas in the West of Scotland.
“The Institute has world-leading expertise to help develop the discussion on future exploration activity in the region.”
Sir Ian said during his recent review of the industry that it was apparent that there is a reluctance amongst many explorers to pursue the region – something the new regulator needs to tackle.