Areas of oil and gas around Scotland’s coast ‘may have been missed’


Geologists predict that there could be reserves of oil and gas in areas around Scotland’s coast which were previously dismissed.

A team from the University of Aberdeen has been determining rock formations around Rockall which is a tiny outcrop 300 miles off the Western Isles. Previous attempts to search for oil in the area have been largely unsuccessful due to which less exploration has taken place.

Only 12 wells have ever been drilled in the Rockall Basin in comparison to 4,000 in the North Sea. A small amount of gas was present in one well but the rest were unsuccessful. But after experimenting with new seismic data, geologists say past drilling has concentrated in wrong areas.

‘Volcanic invasion’

Geologist Dr. Nick Schofield said: “The Rockall Basin is the most challenging environments on earth known for hydrocarbon explorations, but our study has shown that one of the constraints to success may have been a misinterpretation of the subsurface geology.

Subsea bumps were earlier thought to be the most valuable location for exploring trapped oil but nothing has been discovered there. Now it is thought that the oil may have been pushed far away from Rockall due to “volcanic invasions”.

The new data has been collected from a series of seismic surveys conducted by the Oil and Gas Authority. The new research does not guarantee that large reserves of oil will be explored in this region but it is worth for exploration.

Nick Richardson from the Oil and Gas Authority said: “The seismic acquisition program and consequent work by Aberdeen and Heriot Watt universities are the vital part of our study to renew exploration.”

Mike Tholen, from industry body Oil and Gas UK, told BBC Scotland: “You’re hopefully looking at two or three years to really achieve something if we see it now, but we’re talking about years rather than decades.”

More analysis of the seismic data is expected to take place over the next 18 months.