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  By Martin Kelly
New technology will extend the life of the North Sea oil and gas industry by decades according to a leading industry figure.
Iain Hutchison, who is the founder of Merlin Extended Reach Drilling, said the sector could benefit from new techniques that allow fields previously thought too risky or marginal to be targeted.

Hutchison’s Perth based firm specialises in drilling wells that are miles from land or platforms and is currently looking at extending the current world’s longest extended bore of 7.5 miles by 5 miles.

The specialist urged firms to grasp the opportunity that exists or risk falling behind:

“There is an opportunity out there in the North Sea, but we seem to have hit a stumbling block and we are in danger of falling behind in the UK.

“There is a chance to drill so many prospects which are relatively near to infrastructure and are real game-changers.” the entrepreneur told Energy Voice.

Extended reach drilling allows a horizontal bore to be drilled that enables previously unreachable oil and gas deposits, located several miles from the rig, to be accessed.  It also allows offshore reserves to be reached from an onshore rig.

“Extended-reach drilling (ERD) could add decades to the life of the North Sea,” Hutchison added.

“There are a lot of prospects out there which operators say are uneconomic, and it is obviously due to the risk.  If we start dependably exploiting these prospects, the clients will soon have an appetite to go further.

“Where are we going to be in 50 years?  We will probably be a little bit further on than where we ever dreamed of.”

With oil taking centre stage in the independence debate, the lifespan of the sector has become one of the most hotly disputed areas.

Both the UK and Scottish Government’s disagree on the potential revenue still left to be extracted from the sector.  However as technology improves then current estimates will almost certainly to be revised upwards as fields once considered uneconomic become viable.

Hutchison’s views support comments from the head of Oil and Gas UK, Martin Webb, who recently said current figures of 24 billion barrels remaining in the waters off Scotland’s coast is an “underestimate”.

The Scottish government’s own conservative estimate, based on price for a barrel of oil of $100, suggests that there is at least £1.5 trillion worth of oil and gas still to be extracted.  Brent crude is currently trading at $111 per barrel.

In May, the Paris based Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecast that the total revenue still to come from Scotland’s oil and gas sector could be as high as £4 trillion.


2013-08-18 00:58

£4trillion to worry about now – it keeps getting worse. Thank God we have Westminster to look after it. Oh well – high speed rail to the midlands and a Trident replacement to look forward too!

We would only waste the money anyway on free education / bus passes / the NHS / welfare support /a renewable energy technology boost to bring in a re-industrialisati  on of Scotland / etc

Vote NO and watch the decline knowing you had a chance and threw it away.
2013-08-18 01:17

As I’ve posted before, a friend of mine who has worked at the cutting edge of the oil industry for decades finds the talk of this resource running out ridiculous. He has told me of the improving technology, which not only makes the North Sea viable for decades yet, but makes the fields to the West of Scotland a huge bonanza for this country. A NO vote next year will leave this bounty in the grasp of Whitehall and we know from experience what they will do with it, all the while denigrating us as “subsidy junkies”. Our time is NOW. Let everyone know before it’s too late.
Jamie Black
2013-08-18 21:16

Fields to the ‘West of Scotland’? Where may these be?
call me dave
2013-08-18 22:16

New oil exploration licences granted in the Autumn of 2012 for the potentially rich and certainly difficult area west of Shetland – and for similar deep sea areas off the west coast;
Apparently successful exploration drilling in the 1980s, off Ayrshire in the mouth of the Firth of Clyde and at the northern end of the Irish Sea;
The story that these encouraging test drills were capped and not developed on government [then Westminster] instructions;
This may have been because production wells in those sea areas would have been a hazard to submarines movements in and out of Faslane and the Holy Loch;
Since the submarines concerned were the American Polaris subs and the issue of risk to these craft from oil wells in these particular sea areas.
Freedom of Information requests to the MoD and to the local authorities concerned, one of which is Argyll and Bute…/…/…
2013-08-19 12:01

please re-post the links – the ones you have provided are invalid.

Many thanks..

2013-08-18 01:22

If the Better Together British Nationalist lot are going to play down to the extreme the potential of the North Sea like they have always done then we should be shouting about the potential top figures and pointing out what was denied to us by lies and Westminster`s selfish greed at our expense.
We top the ranks in all the wrong things such as poor health and poverty in Europe whilst Norway stands as an example of what could have been achieved had we not been duped.
Whatever Yes Scotland or the Scottish Government claim can be achieved with independence is always gonna be rubbished in the media. Shouting about the most optimistic predictions surely can do us no harm?
2013-08-18 01:27

Thank god we DO have Westminster to look after our welfare clootie.

I was saying only the other day at a meeting in the Assembly Rooms how wonderful London was by using her vast Oil and Gas REVENUES by helping countries like Scotland who have no Oil and Gas REVENUES to set up FOOD BANKS .

And another thing clootie. This business about London not sharing Scotland’s Oil and Gas.

London allows Scotland to claim the Oil and Gas RESERVES while she handles the REVENUES on behalf of all of us and who knows, maybe one day she will spend some of it in Scotland :0)

What could be fairer?

VOTE YES in 396 Days
2013-08-18 04:09

Just think where all this money will be pumping if we vote No.

The subject of money being pumped out of our economy really struck home to me last week. If you consider what the average household expenditure is on a mortgage, gas and electricity, and fuel for transport, and supermarket spending. Multiply that figure by the number of houses in a scheme, and the number of schemes within a town. Suddenly a picture emerges of just how much capital week after week is being removed from our local economies.
This is virtually ALL money which at one time would have stayed in circulation powering local economies which is now syphoned off with no effective method of syphoning it back in again. Liquidity which has been the lifeblood of our communities is being bled dry and centralised elsewhere and we are left with impoverished families, failing towns & cities which are falling apart.
It cannot continue. Our towns can’t take any more.
2013-08-18 09:54

I worked in the oil industry for 35 years before I retired in 2007. Two of my sons are working in it now and I know they will retire in it all being well. When I left the Lanarkshire area in 1972 to join the industry up at Nigg Bay(Cromarty Firth)my work mates at the time told me I would be redundant in three years – I wasn’t but they were. I have considerable knowledge of the industry and assure you another 50 years is more than viable. Running out indeed !!!!
2013-08-18 10:50

This whole spin, by the No to Scotland campaign, of oil reserves being a liability rather than an asset really does my head in.

Imagine the disaster if it was found that Scotland was the site of vast gold reserves. That would surely kill off independence in its tracks?
2013-08-18 22:16

I worked in the oil industry for 30+ years. A colleague told me that he was on the survey ships (Early 80’s) that surveyed the west of Scotland and what they found made them very optimistic that there were commercial quantities of oil off the West of Scotland, NB this is not West of Shetland which is a different area and has substantial oil and gas reserves. I have no idea why they have not carried out appraisal drilling yet, I presume due to atomic submarines using the area as a training ground.
2013-08-18 23:00

The NE of Scotland is considered by many to be the heartland of the independence movement.
Why should this be ?
Perhaps it is because they see in their daily lives the prosperity that the oil and gas industry has brought to the region.
Of course,not everyone has benefited from the high wages but they can see what might be possible with a government who has their interests at heart and also has control over the revenues.
With a government in Scotland dedicated to the interests of Scots,we can all benefit from this resource instead of the revenues being used to support projects in the south of England.
2013-08-19 10:21

@ Jamie Black. BBC News. “Platform installed as £4.5 billion Clair oil project proceeds”. This is just one area. The oil is there, and improving technology makes it accessible. Why the rest isn’t being developed only Westminster knows. Why keep it quiet? An independent Scotland will be able to set it’s own agenda, with a sensible, long term programme which will benefit generations of Scots. An attractive prospect and one of many reasons to vote YES!
2013-08-19 11:21

I wish the BBC’s oil guru Douglas Fraser hadn’t told me we’d suffer the asset curse from having so much oil. I lie awake at nights thinking about it. What are we going to do??? We’ll be cursed for decades with wealth! We’ll all have to take up gambling, Wonga loans and PFI contracts, until we’ve got rid of it all.
Or we could just hand the lot over to Westminster and not worry our fluffy heads about things like that. Mr Fraser will keep us right.
call me dave
2013-08-19 12:03

It’s catching this insomnia!
Links supplied yesterday dont work try them again.
There’s lots of places that probably have oil, more to worry about.

I’ve tried to find mainland oil which I saw somewhere about a year ago can’t find the details anymore.
Seems were floating in the stuff and it’s under our feet too.
Oh would some Uk department remove this burden from our shoulders! Oh …wait!!

call me dave
2013-08-19 12:55

Can I post this link:

You can find all the oil activity rigs in and around the Scottish coast (or round the world) as well as the ships.
Click on any ship / icon and you get the info.

It’s a busy place indeed.

As for NATO membership (if we want to join) we will be welcome. Just look at the map.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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