The Scottish Government is to set up a new working group to examine the prospects for new oil discoveries in unexplored areas off the West Coast of Scotland – including the Firth of Clyde.
Other maritime areas to be considered are the Solway Firth, the North Channel and the Sea of the Hebrides.
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.
Announcing the move – would have long-term geo-political consequences if Scotland votes Yes in its Independence Referendum next month – Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Stimulating oil and gas activity off the West Coast could create employment and further increase the longevity of the industry in the country.
“Furthermore, any future activity will be supported by Scotland’s world-class indigenous supply chain with 40 years of experience in the North Sea. However, only with independence will the Scottish Government have the full economic powers to stimulate exploration activity in Scotland’s waters to fully develop the country’s oil and gas resources.”
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.
Attendees will also discuss the requirement for new research to help stimulate exploration off the west coast. The ‘West of Scotland Oil and Gas Workshop’, which will be held in late Autumn, further emphasises the long term future of the oil and gas industry in Scotland, which supports more than 200,000 jobs.
Professor Dorrik Stow, Head of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot Watt University, said: “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.”
Professor John Howell, Chair in Geology & Petroleum Geology at Aberdeen University, added: “The offshore area to the west of Scotland includes several major basins with hydrocarbon potential.
“Although more than 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 the Scottish mainland – with many basins totally unexplored. 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.”