The largest conventional gas discovery in UK waters since 2008 has been made in the North Sea.
Oil and gas firm Total says the find on the Glendronach prospect could deliver around one trillion cubic feet of recoverable resources – a trillion cubic feet of gas equates to 176 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Wood Mackenzie North Sea research analyst Kevin Swann estimated that the fuel could contribute as much as 10% of the UK’s annual gas production in its early years.
He said: “Exploration in the UK has been a huge concern so far in 2018 with just five exploration wells spudded to date – on track for lowest levels of activity since the 1960s.
“So this discovery is welcome news, even if there is more work to do if the UK is to fill the project gap that is set to arise in the next few years.”
Total has a 60% stake in Glendronach, with Ineos and SSE holding 20% each. The company said the discovery would also extend the life of the West of Shetland infrastructure and production hub which includes the Laggan, Tormore, Edradour and Glenlivet fields, which contribute roughly 7% of the UK’s gas.
Most of the activity in the North Sea in recent years has come from older fields being sold to smaller companies who have the time and the inclination to squeeze out any remaining value.
Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “The focus on quick commercialisation of this find, made viable by the UKCS’ existing infrastructure, provides motivation for investors as well as industry.
“It also highlights what can be achieved when companies maximise the potential yield from their existing blocks.
“This increased activity is critical as we look to maximise economic recovery from the UK Continental Shelf and realise Vision 2035.”
However, Friends of the Earth Scotland has called the discovery “incompatible with a country and a world that takes climate action seriously”.