By a Newsnet reporter

Questions over why a recent visit to the Shetland Islands by Prime Minister David Cameron was kept secret from the Scottish public and media, have been met with silence from Number 10 Downing Street.

Newsnet Scotland can reveal that despite contacting the Scotland Office and the Press office at Number 10, in an attempt to discover why Mr Cameron’s trip was kept hush-hush we have yet to receive any answers.

The issue surrounds a visit to the islands by the Prime Minister last month. Locals were stunned on July 22nd when Mr Cameron arrived unannounced having flown from London.

The Prime Minister stayed for 24 hours and had apparently travelled all the way from London to tell islanders of a new energy deal that would save them £42 per year.

However suspicions quickly grew that there was more to the Tory leader’s secret trip than was being revealed. The west coast of Shetland is fast becoming one of the key sectors in the north sea and the visit coincided with appraisal drilling in an area known as Clair Ridge.

Rumours had been circulating that an oil find in the Clair Ridge sector was far bigger than expected. They were further fuelled when BP refused to confirm if the results had indeed suggested reserves were greater than expected.

Claims that Mr Cameron had visited a rig as part of his two day stay in Shetland were denied by the Scotland Office.

A spokesperson said: “The PM did not visit any oil rigs as part of this visit.”

Asked by Newsnet Scotland why a 1600 mile round trip to make an announcement on energy had been kept secret from the public and press, the Scotland Office advised us to contact the Number 10 press office.

Despite a phone call over two days ago and a pledge to respond to our question, Downing Street has yet to explain why the trip was kept secret.

However there was a response from BP.

Asked about the trip, a spokesperson for the oil giant denied Mr Cameron had made any contact with BP officials.

“The Cameron visit to Shetland had no connection to BP at all” we were told.

The spokesperson also denied claims that that crew on a rig had been sent home on full pay, saying: “No crew on the Paul B Loyd jnr [the oil rig carrying out drilling] have been sent home on full pay”.

The spokeswoman also told Newsnet Scotland that claims BP had discovered “vast” reserves in Clair had “no basis in fact” and that the company was “not withholding disclosure” until after the independence referendum.

The spokesperson added: “We’ve been open and transparent about Clair and that’s evidenced last year when we announced the appraisal programme we were going to do.

“We are looking on the Clair field, which we said we would do last year when we announced the appraisal programme, but as is the norm across the industry we won’t discuss individual well test results.

“That’s not because the wells are particularly bad or particularly good, no oil company will speculate on well test results until appraisal programmes are finished.”

Pressed that reports had already appeared in the media confirming appraisal results were better than expected, the spokesperson denied any knowledge of the reports, and said “None of those statements are based on any fact”.

However one of the statements was in fact made by BP chief executive Bob Dudley himself. Industry magazine Upstream said of Clair Ridge: ‘positive signals are emerging from an ongoing appraisal drilling campaign.’

Speaking at a press briefing just over one week ago, Dudley said: “We remain very enthusiastic about Clair Ridge – appraisal wells are looking good. It is helping us to define the structure out there.

“[Clair Ridge] will be a project once we get it on in the next few years that has the potential to produce until 2050.”

The waters around Shetland are known to hold considerable reserves of oil and gas which have, until now, been too difficult to extract. However advances in technology and the continued increase in oil prices have now made the fields profitable.

In June this year it emerged that another field, Lancaster, had also produced results that were greater than initial estimates.

Hurricane Energy, the company behind the find, said production tests using a pump achieved a flow rate of 9,800 barrels of oil per day, well above expectations.

Similar results were discovered in another field to the west of Shetland after Whirwind was found to be holding similar volumes of oil.

A report published in March this year by Investors Chronicle, which is part of the FT group, described Lancaster and Whirlwind as “major discoveries” and concluded that “abundant new and under-explored plays could yield significant resources.”


2014-08-07 20:34

If not BP then whom did he meet with and to what purpose?
Perhaps another Lerwick agreement between London and SIC?
No doubt all will be revealed when it suits London’s agenda.
2014-08-07 21:06

Beware of partition….
Auld Rock
2014-08-07 21:28

Let’s put the record straight, the new fields west of Shetland, the Lancaster and Clair fields are not the North Sea, they are part of what geologically known as ‘The Clair Ridge’ and is geologically part of what is known as ‘The Atlantic Margin’ which extends to west and south of the Hebrides. This is the untapped wealth that Westminster does not want you to know about. Just like McCrone 40 odd years ago.

Auld Rock

2014-08-07 22:04

Normally I would agree 100% with Virgil who posted about this earlier, however something strange happened. Last year there was a small seismic vessel working in that area who happened to drift into the Faroese sector. Nothing unusual about that, seismic vessels can’t stop and their direction of travel is often dependent on the prevailing weather or technical issues. However, as soon as the vessel steamed into the Faroese sector, a Danish warship comes screaming over the horizon telling her to turn around. It was only when she provided assurances that she wasn’t collecting data that she was allowed to continue. I have never seen that happen in European or Scandinavian waters. Why were/are the Danes so sensitive? Curious indeed.
2014-08-07 22:24

Whatever it was about, we can all rest assured that it won’t be for any reason that’s for the benefit of the Scottish people.
2014-08-07 22:29

My goodness the BBC is throwing EVERYTHING at the YES camp tonight—it is truly shocking , the one sided nature of the broadcasting , unchallenged mischief making, muddying of the waters, conflation and downright misreporting is completely out of order.

I look forward to the same dissection of the NO side…. But I’m sure there will be two moons in the sky before our ‘public broadcaster’ does this. If the ‘NO’ side didn’t have the BBC ‘on side’, the polls would now be 80% ‘YES’.

I look forward to the day we have a ‘new’ public broadcaster in Scotland and the BBC is consigned to history. – International observers are required.

2014-08-08 06:28

“Our” public broadcaster?

Will Mcewan
2014-08-07 23:46

We were talking tonight to an oil field worker (Ex Royal Navy)who has moved from NO to YES. He was told (re the Clair Ridge)that there was work in this field not only for him and his children but for their children. He also told they were bringing up all sort of other interesting minerals including gold from the rock strata
2014-08-08 07:33

You know I was wondering if there were any DA notices issued with regard to this or anything else Independence related. The official site produces minutes of the by annual meetings in May and November, but it was last updated only for November 2013, the May minutes are not yet published. Seems strange as the November minutes were uploaded in November.
2014-08-08 14:04

This photo and story are remarkably similar to one posted by a wee ginger cat called Buster on Yes Shetland page
2014-08-08 23:28

So there you go.
BP is ‘not withholding disclosure until after the independence referendum’, but won’t release any results until after the full appraisal program is finished next year!

One thing is certain – The recent success at Lancaster further along the EXACT SAME RIDGE proved up the fractured basement rock, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that BP will be replicating that work on the giant Clair structure, in which a huge oil column in the basement rock has long been known of. But is NOT INCLUDED in current reserve estimates.

Now that the basement fractures can be successfully tapped into with long horizontal wells, then the reserves at Clair are extremely likely to soon show a massive increase.

This Lancaster well opens up HUGE potential, with similar features all the way down the west coast.

2014-08-09 07:49

This is all recall but I remember the vast oil finds off the Falkland Islands at around 8 Billion BofO equivalent being described as the Saudia Arabia of the South Atlantic.
Now it seems that Clair alone is of the same vast size.
Something that the plebs cannot find out about. So, just as we hear nothing today about the Falklands, we hear nothing at all about Clair or the Clyde.
Where oh where are our investigative journalists when we need them ?.
2014-08-09 18:54

Please everyone remember the McCrone report on the oil reserves in the Scottish continental shelf in the 1970s which concluded that “if Scotland achieved independence, it would become ‘obscenely rich’”. This was in the era of the advancing independence movement and the report was suppressed for 30 years. Don’t let us fall for this chicanery again. It only makes us look stupid.
rUK is £1.5 trillion in debt, increasing at the rate of £100 billion/yr. They need this desperately and Scotland will see none of the revenue from it in the event of a NO vote. Austerity and food banks for ever.

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