Oil & Gas Editorial: Largest UK Oil Discovery This Century May Be A Russian Mountain

Tim Haïdar

In the week that the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Theresa May, will oversee the official triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of the Brexit process, a significant oil discovery is announced in the North Sea.

UK-based Hurricane Energy, an exploration and production company that has built a portfolio of assets on the back of analysing fractured basement reservoirs, said that it has found the largest unexploited field in British waters, and the biggest find of the 21st century so far.  

The company’s founder and CEO, Dr. Robert Trice stated that analysis of a number of recently-drilled wells has shown them to be part of one contiguous source. Data from Hurricane’s Halifax drill-site has led to the conclusion that it is geologically-connected to their Lancaster discovery. Trice stated his company’s belief that: “The GLA (Greater Lancaster Area) is a single hydrocarbon accumulation, making it the largest undeveloped discovery on the UK Continental Shelf".

Hurricane’s prospects are located West of Shetland, an area that has promised much in terms of the 12 to 24 billion remaining barrels of oil equivalent (boe) said to be lurking on the UKCS. The GLA announcement represents a rare chink of light glistening in the murky waters of an industry at its lowest ebb since production began in the 1960s.

Despite the lifted spirits of a beleaguered British oil sector, the nature of the geology at play has left some analysts cool on the prospect of a renewed Black Gold rush in British waters.

The timing of the announcement could not have come at a better juncture for already-strained Anglo-Scottish relations.

The Scottish Parliament is expected to support a second referendum on independence before the triggering of Article 50 on Wednesday, and the discovery of one of the largest potential hydrocarbons resources in decades will do much to buoy the economic case for autonomy.

However, as stated here barely a fortnight ago, any independent nation would be foolish to pin its hopes on the commodities rollercoaster.

Interestingly, the word in many Romance languages for rollercoaster is “Russian Mountain”, based on the original pleasure slides constructed on hills of ice in St Petersburg in the 17th century. Perhaps it would be good to ask the Russians how the oil rollercoaster has treated them in the past?...