Oil and Gas

Industry report: Scotland set for 100 year oil boom West of Shetland

Written by Michael Gray

BuNanyjIgAAJRg_Increased oil investment in Scotland’s Atlantic waters has led to a growth in the strength of Scotland’s oil and gas sector. In recent months reports have focus on the new Clair Ridge field, a massive £4.5 billion oil investment project.

A new industry report goes even further and estimates that these recent investments represent only a fraction of a 100 year oil boom for Scotland’s Atlantic Margin.

The report, commissioned by Oil and Gas People, the world’s largest oil and gas industry jobs board, with support from North Sea oil and gas industry experts, conclude that untapped oil and gas in the West Coast will last for at least 100 years, with a whole value of more than £1 trillion.

Investors Chronicle reported that politicians in Westminster were underestimating the value of Scotland’s oil and gas to undermine the case for Scottish independence. Former Chancellor Dennis Healey admitted that this ploy was used in the 1970s.

Atlantic Margin can substantially enhance Scotland’s finances

Such an expansion in West Coast oil and gas would be as significant an economic transformation as the original explosion in North Sea oil and gas in the 1970s. This would also have a significant impact on Scotland’s overall finances. It would give Scotland further finances in invest in the growing renewables sector, other manufacturing sectors and improve public services.

north-sea_1855640bOil rich countries such as Norway, Qatar, Kuwait have been transformed as a result of their natural resources. In contrast, Westminster Government has squandered North Sea oil and failed to establish an energy investment fund.

When contacted regarding the report, Professor John Howell, Chair in Geology and Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen has commented:

“This is another piece of work from the industry that highlights the massive unexplored potential that lies in the West of Shetland region.”

Other sources in the industry include Hurricane Energy who reported that the Lancaster field has ‘well exceeded expectations‘. Other reports highlight the growth in production and activity across the region due to advances in exploration technology. Oil and gas investment hit a record high last year of £13 billion.

Today both Professor Alex Kemp from the University of Aberdeen and Kevin Forbes, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas People, were interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland. Both commentators agreed that this oil boom is developing with potential for long-term growth.


This is potentially one of the most important stories of the independence debate. While David Cameron has sought to play down the value of Scotland’s oil, industry experts and commentators have explained how valuable it is and its importance long into the 21st century.

Voters in Scotland will decide on the 18th of September whether Scotland or Westminster should receive the tax revenue from this important resource.



About the author

Michael Gray

Michael is Head of Research with Business for Scotland.

A graduate from the University of Glasgow, he has carried out a series of interviews with academics, politicians and the public in Denmark, Iceland and Ireland. Michael's on twitter @GrayInGlasgow.


  • Don’t listen to Westminster, they have been swinging things their way since the Act of Union was forced upon the Scottish people all those years ago. Vote “YES” bring your revenue under your control.

  • Thanks to all the experts for their thoughts on the Shetland oil boom and oil prices. Anyone want to hand in their resignation letter?

    • The article below just arrived today in a bulletin from Scottish Energy News. However I stand by my predictions that oil prices will rise and that oil will be a major bonus to the Scottish economy in the future. Had Scotland voted yes it would not be an independent nation till next year and so current prices would only mean that the value of the oil fields were lower when negotiating the split. Please also note that even with a period in sustained low prices Scotland’s economy is continuing to grow and employment is comparatively strong and low fuel costs have boosted manufacturing companies and helped keep inflation low. So your scepticism of a hundred year prediction is based on a few months before the period in question has started and even the low price is not particular bad news for Scotland’s economy as a whole (just the oil and gas sector) thus proving the absolute incorrectness of the claim that Scotland’s economy as an independent country would be based on oil.

      From Scottish Energy News – 28 July 2015
      >>The N. Sea oil and gas industry yesterday received a welcome boost after the Aberdeen-based regulator announced the remaining winners from the 28th UK Offshore Licensing Round.

      The 41 new licences awarded today in addition to the 134 confirmed in late 2014 makes this one of the largest rounds in the five decades since the first licensing round took place in 1964 – a total of 175 licences covering 353 blocks.

      The 28th Offshore Licensing Round was launched on 24 January 2014 and a total of 173 applications were received. The main tranche of awards was announced on 6 November 2014 and today’s awards have been confirmed following additional environmental assessment and consultation.

      Andy Samuel, Chief Executive, Oil and Gas Authority, said: “The North Sea remains a world-class hydrocarbon province where significant resources and economic value remain to be realised. The good level of interest in the 28th Round highlights the continued attractiveness of the UK’s oil and gas resources.

      “Licences are however just a start and industry, government and the OGA now need to work together to revitalise exploration activity across the basin and convert licences into successful exploration wells.”

      Andrea Leadsom, junior UK Energy Minister (above) said: “We are determined to make the most of our North Sea resources to provide secure, reliable energy for hardworking families and businesses and reduce our reliance on volatile foreign imports.

      “We are backing our oil and gas industry which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK.

      The 28th offshore licensing round comes after the Government announced a major package of support in March to encourage £4 billion of additional investment in the North Sea which will prolong the life of this vital industry.”<< So its vital to the UK but a burden to Scotland - you should listen to yourself!

  • I knew in certain areas in the U.S. and Canada there had been verily sizable oil booms due to new technologies and have been curious about the extent to which the independence movement was based around a desire to control expanding natural resources in Scotland. Unfortunately though, at least in the U.S. this hasn’t been covered at all.

  • How come none of this has came out in the favour of the yes vote? I’m very sceptical about this.

  • Good report. Apart from the border being wrong. The maratine border on the east coast doesn’t actually stop at Aberdeen, it stops in line with Berwick. This little fact means that an extra 12 producing oil and gas platforms, that aren’t being included into any calculations. This illegal border change will reset after a YES vote.

  • The oil recovery in the west off Clyde will not be in the equation unless We get Independence and oust the mod nuke subs.

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