In the petroleum industry, the term "North Sea" often includes areas such as the Norwegian Sea and the area known as "West of Shetland", "the Atlantic Frontier" or "the Atlantic Margin" that is not geographically part of the North Sea.
Commercial extraction of oil on the shores of the North Sea dates back to 1851, when James Young retorted oil from torbanite (boghead coal, or oil shale) mined in the Midland Valley of Scotland. Across the sea in Germany, oil was found in the Wietze field near Hanover in 1859, leading to the discovery of seventy more fields, mostly in Lower Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs, producing a combined total of around 1340 m³ (8,400 barrels) per day.
Gas was found by chance in a water well near Hamburg in 1910, leading to minor gas discoveries in Zechstein dolomites elsewhere in Germany. In England, BP discovered gas in similar reservoirs in the Eskdale anticline in 1938, and in 1939 they found commercial oil in Carboniferous rocks at Eakring in Nottinghamshire. Discoveries elsewhere in the East Midlands lifted production to 400 m³ (2,500 barrels) per day, and a second wave of exploration from 1953 to 1961 found the Gainsborough field and ten smaller fields.
The Netherlands' first oil shows were seen in a drilling demonstration at De Mient during the 1938 World Petroleum Congress at The Hague. Subsequent exploration led to the 1943 discovery by Exploratie Nederland, part of the Royal Dutch/Shell company Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij, of oil under the Dutch village of Schoonebeek, near the German border. NAM found the Netherlands' first gas in Zechstein carbonates at Coevorden in 1948. 1952 saw the first exploration well in the province of Groningen, Haren-1, which was the first to penetrate the Lower Permian Rotliegendes sandstone that is the main reservoir for the gas fields of the southern North Sea, although in Haren-1 it contained only water. The Ten Boer well failed to reach target depth for technical reasons, but was completed as a minor gas producer from the Zechstein carbonates. The Slochteren-1 well found gas in the Rotliegendes in 1959, although the full extent of what became known as the Groningen gas field was not appreciated until 1963—it is currently estimated at ≈96×1012 cu ft (2,700 km3) recoverable gas reserves. Smaller discoveries to the west of Groningen followed.
The UK Continental Shelf Act came into force in May 1964. Seismic exploration and the first well followed later that year. It and a second well on the Mid North Sea High were dry, as the Rotliegendes was absent, but BP's Sea Gem rig struck gas in the West Sole Field in September 1965. The celebrations were short-lived since the Sea Gem sank, with the loss of 13 lives, after part of the rig collapsed as it was moved away from the discovery well. The Viking Gas Field was discovered in December 1965 with the Conoco/National Coal Board well 49/17-1, finding the gas-bearing Permian Rotliegend Sandstone at a depth of 2,756 m subsea. Helicopters were first used to transport workers. Larger gas finds followed in 1966—Leman Bank, Indefatigable and Hewett, but by 1968 companies had lost interest in further exploration of the British sector, a result of a ban on gas exports and low prices offered by the only buyer, British Gas. West Sole came onstream in May 1967. Licensing regulations for Dutch waters were not finalised until 1967.
The situation was transformed in December 1969, when Phillips Petroleum discovered oil in Chalk of Danian age at Ekofisk, in Norwegian waters in the central North Sea. The same month, Amoco discovered the Montrose Field about 217 km (135 mi) east of Aberdeen. BP had been awarded several licences in the area in the second licensing round late in 1965, but had been reluctant to work on them. The discovery of Ekofisk prompted them to drill what turned out to be a dry hole in May 1970, followed by the discovery of the giant Forties Oil Field in October 1970. The following year, Shell Expro discovered the giant Brent oilfield in the northern North Sea east of Shetland in Scotland and the Petronord Group discovered the Frigg gas field. The Piper oilfield was discovered in 1973 and the Statfjord Field and the Ninian Field in 1974, with the Ninian reservoir consisting of Middle Jurassic sandstones at a depth of 3000 m subsea in a "westward tilted horst block".
Off shore production, like that of the North Sea, became more economical after the 1973 oil crisis caused the world oil price to quadruple, followed by the 1979 oil crisis, causing another tripling in the oil price. Oil production started from the Argyll & Duncan Oilfields (now the Ardmore) in June 1975 followed by Forties Oil Field in November of that year. The inner Moray Firth Beatrice Field, a Jurassic sandstone/shale reservoir 1829 m deep in a "fault-bounded anticlinal trap", was discovered in 1976 with well 11/30-1, drilled by the Mesa Petroleum Group (named after T. Boone Pickens' wife Bea, "the only oil field in the North Sea named for a woman") in 49 m of water.
Volatile weather conditions in Europe's North Sea have made drilling particularly hazardous, claiming many lives (see Oil platform). The conditions also make extraction a costly process; by the 1980s, costs for developing new methods and technologies to make the process both efficient and safe, far exceeded NASA's budget to land a man on the moon. The exploration of the North Sea has been a story of continually pushing the edges of the technology of exploitation (in terms of what can be produced) and later the technologies of discovery and evaluation (2-D seismic, followed by 3-D and 4-D seismic; sub-salt seismic; immersive display and analysis suites and supercomputing to handle the flood of computation required).
The Gullfaks oil field was discovered in 1978. The Snorre Field was discovered in 1979, producing from the Triassic Lunde Formation and the Triassic-Jurassic Statfjord Formation, both fluvial sandstones in a mudstone matrix. The Oseberg oil field and Troll gas field were also discovered in 1979. The Miller oilfield was discovered in 1983. The Alba Field produces from sandstones in the middle Eocene Alba Formation at 1860 m subsea and was discovered in 1984 in UKCS Block 16/26. The Smorbukk Field was discovered in 1984 in 250–300 m of water that produces from Lower to Middle Jurassic sandstone formations within a fault block. The Snohvit Gas Field and the Draugen oil field were discovered in 1984. The Heidrun oil field was discovered in 1985.
The largest UK field discovered in the past 25 years is Buzzard, also located off Scotland, found in June 2001 with producible reserves of almost 64×106 m³ (400m bbl) and an average output of 28,600 m³ to 30,200 m³ (180,000-220,000 bbl) per day.
The largest field found in the past five years on the Norwegian part of the North Sea, is the Johan Sverdrup oil field which was discovered in 2010, with further oil of the same field was discovered the next year. Total reserves of the field are estimated at 1.7 to 3.3 billion barrels of gross recoverable oil and Johan Sverdrup is expected to produce 120,000 to 200,000 barrels of oil per day. Production start is planned to happen in 2018. It is one of the largest discoveries made in the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
As of January 2015, the North Sea was the world's most active offshore drilling region with 173 active rigs drilling. By May 2016, the North Sea oil&gas industry was financially stressed by the reduced oil prices, and called for government support.
The distances, number of workplaces and fierce weather push the 290,000 square miles (750,000 square kilometers) North Sea area to operate the world's largest fleet of heavy instrument flight rules (IFR) helicopters, some specifically developed for the North Sea. They carry about two million passengers per year from 16 onshore bases, of which Aberdeen Airport is the world's busiest with 500,000 passengers per year.
Following the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf and after some disputes on the rights to natural resource exploitation the national limits of the exclusive economic zones were ratified. Five countries are involved in oil production in the North Sea. All operate a tax and royalty licensing regime. The respective sectors are divided by median lines agreed in the late 1960s:
The British and Norwegian sectors hold most of the large oil reserves. It is estimated that the Norwegian sector alone contains 54% of the sea's oil reserves and 45% of its gas reserves. More than half of the North Sea oil reserves have been extracted, according to official sources in both Norway and the UK. For Norway, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate  gives a figure of 4,601 million cubic metres of oil (corresponding to 29 billion barrels) for the Norwegian North Sea alone (excluding smaller reserves in Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea) of which 2,778 million cubic metres (60%) has already been produced prior to January 2007. UK sources give a range of estimates of reserves, but even using the most optimistic "maximum" estimate of ultimate recovery, 76% had been recovered as of the end of 2010. Note the UK figure includes fields which are not in the North Sea (onshore, West of Shetland).
United Kingdom Continental Shelf production was 137 million tonnes of oil and 105 billion m³ of gas in 1999. (1 tonne of crude oil converts to 7.5 barrels). The Danish explorations of Cenozoic stratigraphy, undertaken in the 1990s, showed petroleum-rich reserves in the northern Danish sector, especially the Central Graben area. The Dutch area of the North Sea followed through with onshore and offshore gas exploration, and well creation.
Exact figures are debatable, because methods of estimating reserves vary and it is often difficult to forecast future discoveries.
When it peaked in 1999, production of North Sea oil was nearly 950,000 m³ (6 million barrels) per day. Natural gas production was nearly 280×109 m³ (10 trillion cubic feet) in 2001; it continues to increase, although British gas production is in sharp decline.
UK oil production has seen two peaks, in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s, with a decline to around 300×103 m³ (1.9 million barrels) per day in the early 1990s. Monthly oil production peaked at 13.5×106 m³ (84.9 million barrels) in January 1985 although the highest annual production was seen in 1999, with offshore oil production in that year of 407×106 m³ (398 million barrels) and had declined to 231×106 m³ (220 million barrels) in 2007. This was the largest decrease of any oil-exporting nation in the world, and has led to Britain becoming a net importer of crude for the first time in decades, as recognized by the energy policy of the United Kingdom. The production is expected to fall to one-third of its peak by 2020. Norwegian crude oil production as of 2013 is 1.4 mbpd. This is a more than 50% decline since the peak in 2001 of 3.2 mbpd.
In the North Sea, Norway's Equinor natural-gas platform Sleipner strips carbon dioxide out of the natural gas with amine solvents and disposes of this carbon dioxide by geological sequestration ("Carbon sequestration") while keeping up gas production pressure. Sleipner reduces emissions of carbon dioxide by approximately one million tonnes a year; that is about one-9000th of total emissions. The cost of geological sequestration is minor relative to the overall running costs. As of April 2005, BP is considering a trial of large-scale sequestration of carbon dioxide stripped from power plant emissions in the Miller oilfield as its reserves are depleted.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum is a maritime museum in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The museum is situated on the historic Shiprow in the heart of the city, near the harbour. It makes use of a range of buildings including a former church and Provost Ross' House, one of the oldest domestic buildings in the city.
The museum tells the story of the city's long relationship with the North Sea. Collections cover shipbuilding, fast sailing ships, fishing and port history, and displays on the North Sea oil industry.
Collection highlights include ship plans and photographs from the major shipbuilders of Aberdeen including Hall, Russell & Company Ltd, Alexander Hall and Sons, Duthie and John Lewis & Co. Ltd and Walter Hood & Co.
Displays include ship and oil rig models, paintings, clipper ship and "North Boats" material, fishing, whalers and commercial trawlers, North Sea oil industry, and the marine environment.BBC Scotland Investigates
BBC Scotland Investigates is a current affairs programme broadcast in Scotland by BBC Scotland. It is broadcast regularly on BBC One Scotland on weekday nights, currently with varying timeslots.
Previously known as Frontline Scotland, the programme usually features current issues affecting the Scottish people. Most recent examples include gang warfare in Glasgow, problems with the NHS, the likely effects of increased gambling in Scottish cities and North Sea oil.
BBC Scotland Investigates' reporters include Samantha Poling and Ross McWilliam.
In most cases the entire programme is devoted to one topic, and consists entirely of an in-depth documentary piece from a single reporter (similar to the BBC's Panorama programme).
The programme is also available on the Internet from the BBC Scotland website, with episodes dating back to 2004 available to watch online.Death of Bradley Westell
Bradley Westell was a British commercial diver who died on 31 July 1995 in the North Sea off Bacton, Norfolk after his umbilical was dragged into one of the thrusters of the diving support vessel Stena Orelia. The accident led to the 1997 conviction of diving supervisor Kenneth Roberts for perverting the course of justice. Roberts received the first prison sentence ever given for a crime committed offshore by a person working in the North Sea oil industry.Department of Energy (United Kingdom)
The Department of Energy (DoE) was a department of the United Kingdom Government. The Department was established in January 1974, when the responsibility for energy production was transferred away from the Department of Trade and Industry in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis and with the importance of North Sea oil increasing.
Following the privatisation of the energy industries in the United Kingdom, which had begun some ten years earlier, the Department was abolished in 1992. Many of its functions were abandoned, with the remainder being absorbed into other bodies or departments. The Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas) and the Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) took over market regulation, the Energy Efficiency Office was transferred to the Department of the Environment, and various media-related functions were transferred to the Department for National Heritage. The core activities relating to UK energy policy were transferred back to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The Department of Energy was a significant source of funding for energy research, and for investigations into the potential for renewable energy technologies in the UK. Work funded or part-funded by the DoE included investigations into Geothermal power and the Severn BarrageDrifter (fishing boat)
A drifter is a type of fishing boat. They were designed to catch herring in a long drift net. Herring fishing using drifters has a long history in the Netherlands and in many British fishing ports, particularly in East Scottish ports.
Until the mid-1960s fishing fleets in the North Sea comprised drifters and trawlers, with the drifters primarily targeting herring while the trawlers caught cod, plaice, skate and haddock, etc. By the mid-1960s the catches were greatly diminishing, particularly the herring. Consequently, the drifter fleet disappeared and many of the trawlers were adapted to work as service ships for the newly created North Sea oil rigs.
Some history of drifters is covered in Scottish east coast fishery.
Drifters preserved as museum ships include Lydia Eva, a steam drifter of the herring fishing fleet based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and Reaper, a restored Scottish Fifie herring drifter at the Scottish Fisheries Museum.Naval drifters were boats built in the same way used by the Royal Navy primarily to maintain and patrol anti-submarine nets. They were either purpose-built for naval use or requisitioned from private owners.Energy in Norway
Norway is a large energy producer, and one of the world's largest exporters of oil.
Most of the electricity in the country is produced by hydroelectricity.
Norway is one of the leading countries in the electrification of its transport sector, with the largest fleet of electric vehicles per capita in the world (see plug-in electric vehicles in Norway and electric car use by country).
Since the discovery of North Sea oil in Norwegian waters during the late 1960s, exports of oil and gas have become very important elements of the economy of Norway.
With North Sea oil production having peaked, disagreements over exploration for oil in the Barents Sea, the prospect of exploration in the Arctic, as well as growing international concern over global warming, energy in Norway is currently receiving close attention.Esbjerg Airport
Esbjerg Airport (Danish: Esbjerg Lufthavn) (IATA: EBJ, ICAO: EKEB) is a small airport located 5 nautical miles (9.2 km) northeast of Esbjerg, Denmark. The airport was opened on April 4, 1971. The primary use of Esbjerg Airport is as a heliport for flying offshore out to the North Sea oil and gas platforms.Flotta
Flotta is a small island in Orkney, Scotland, lying in Scapa Flow. The island is known for its large oil terminal and is linked by Orkney Ferries to Houton on the Orkney Mainland and Lyness and Longhope on Hoy. The island has a population of 80.Gordon Brunton
Sir Gordon Charles Brunton (27 December 1921 – 30 May 2017) was a British businessman, publisher, racehorse owner and breeder.Grangemouth Refinery
Grangemouth Refinery is a mature oil refinery complex located on the Firth of Forth in Grangemouth, Scotland. Currently operated by Petroineos, it is the only crude oil refinery in Scotland (and will be the only operating oil refinery following the cessation of refining activities at the Dundee Refinery) and currently one of six in the UK. It is reputedly the UK's second-oldest refinery, and it supplies refined products to customers in Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland, as well as occasionally further afield.It's Scotland's oil
"It's Scotland's oil" was a widely publicised political slogan used by the Scottish National Party (SNP) during the 1970s in making their economic case for Scottish independence. It was argued that the discovery of North Sea oil off the coast of Scotland, and the revenue that it created would not benefit Scotland to any significant degree while Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom.
The SNP campaigned widely in both the February 1974 UK General Election and subsequent October 1974 UK General Election using this slogan. At the February election the SNP gained seven seats in the House of Commons and 22% of the Scottish vote, rising to eleven seats and 30% of the vote in the October election. The idea behind the slogan has proven to be controversial in discussions surrounding the financial viability of an independent Scottish state and still resonates to this day.Labour Party of Scotland
The Labour Party of Scotland was a minor Scottish nationalist political party that was active in the early 1970s. Formed as a left-wing breakaway from Dundee's branch of the Scottish National Party (SNP), it is perhaps best known for standing in the Dundee East by-election of 1973, where its interference split the nationalist vote and probably cost the SNP a parliamentary seat as a result. The party contested elections to Dundee City Council two months later but was ultimately unsuccessful. It folded soon after, and by early 1974 most of its membership had returned to the SNP, whose campaigns on North Sea oil were proving popular with Scotland's urban electorate. It never had any official political representation.
William Wolfe, then leader of the SNP, dismissed the Labour Party of Scotland's founding as opportunism on the part of local politicians. These included George McLean, the party's most popular member, whose by-election rival Gordon Wilson succeeded Wolfe in 1979.List of companies of Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. Traditionally, the Scottish economy has been dominated by heavy industry underpinned by shipbuilding in Glasgow, coal mining and steel industries. Petroleum related industries associated with the extraction of North Sea oil have also been important employers from the 1970s, especially in the north-east of Scotland. Edinburgh is the financial services centre of Scotland, with many large finance firms based there, including: Lloyds Banking Group (owners of HBOS); the Government owned Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life.List of renewable resources produced and traded by the United Kingdom
This list of renewable resources produced and traded by the United Kingdom presents various renewable resources such as crops for food or fuel, livestock and wood with accompanying information being given on its production and trade by the United Kingdom.
(For non-renewable resources of the United Kingdom see: Coal mining in the United Kingdom, Hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom, Mining in the United Kingdom and North Sea oil).Scandinavian Oil-Gas Magazine
Scandinavian Oil-Gas Magazine (ISSN 1500-709X) is a bi-monthly magazine published in Norway, with a circulation of 11,000. The magazine covers the oil and gas industry worldwide, with a primary focus on Europe. Founded in 1973, it is the oldest oil and gas magazine in Europe. The magazine is published by Scandinavian Oil-Gas Magazine AS.
Scandinavian Oil-Gas Magazine was established by Paal Gulbrandsen, who retired in 2004, and is a family-owned company. The magazine was established to provide in-depth information on developments within the North Sea oil and gas industry. Along the way, Scandinavina Oil-Gas Magazine has covered some of modern history’s landmarks in the industry, including oil and gas fields such as Ekofisk, Troll gas field, Statfjord, Gullfaks, Ormen Lange, Snøhvit, Sakhalin-I and II, and Shtokman.Sea Quest
The Sea Quest was a semi-submersible drilling rig. She discovered the UK's first North Sea oil on 14 September 1969 in the Arbroath Field. She also discovered the first giant oil field named Forties on 7 October 1970.The Sea Quest was built by Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff for BP at a cost of £3.5 million and launched on 8 January 1966.
The entire structure was 320 feet (98 m) high and weighed 150,000 tons, including three legs each 35 feet (11 m) in diameter and 160 feet (49 m) long that could be partially filled with water to control the height of the platform above the sea.In 1977, Sea Quest was sold to Sedco (now part of Transocean) and renamed Sedco 135C. She was towed to the west coast of Africa. On 17 January 1980, while drilling in the Warri area, Nigeria, a blowout occurred and the rig sustained extensive fire damage. The rig was then deliberately sunk in deep water.Sunbury Research Centre
The Sunbury Research Centre -- also known as ICBT Sunbury -- is a main research institute of BP in north-east Surrey.The Troubleshooters
The Troubleshooters (titled Mogul for the first series) is a British television series made by the BBC between 1965 and 1972, created by John Elliot. It recounted events in an international oil company – the "Mogul" of the title. The first series was mostly concerned with the internal politics within the Mogul organisation, with episodes revolving around industrial espionage, internal fraud and negligence almost leading to an accident on a North Sea oil rig.
The series' upbeat theme music was by Tom Springfield, brother of Dusty.Walter Wolf
Walter Wolf (born 5 October 1939) is a Canadian oil-drilling equipment supplier who in the early 1970s made a fortune from the North Sea oil business and decided to join the world of Formula One (F1) motor racing.
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