A second huge oil field may have been found by oil exploration companies Wintershall and Encore Oil. The new discovery could potentially hold between 100 and 200 million barrels and comes just days after Wintershall announced a find worth 60 to 100 million barrels east of Aberdeen.
The new discovery could herald a renewed interest in North Sea exploration and could mean current assumptions that the area has been fully depleted of reserves are premature. The second strike is at the previously explored Cladhan field. It was drilled in 2008 but the results were minimal, new geological data lead to renewed prospecting and now its thought the field could yield vast supplies of crude oil though much more research is needed.
Meanwhile the discovery at Blakeney 150Km off Aberdeen just last week is expected to deliver 60-100 million barrels. The oil was found at depth of 4,455 feet. So could there be plenty more down there? Chris Bulley, Executive Director at Hannon Westwood, UK Continental Shelf analysts said further exploration would depend on the quality of the oil.
“The quality and gravity of the oil in the discovery has not been divulged and this could be key to whether an economic development is possible. The Blakeney play has been recognised for some years but oil gravity was thought to be low. It is understood that a re-appraisal of the geology may have suggested the possibility of both a better quality oil and a better quality reservoir. Once further information on these aspects of the discovery is divulged it will provide a greater insight into the development options,” he said.
However even if more oil is found fears over safety on rigs following the BP Gulf disaster could hamper exploration. Last month MPs announced an inquiry into the Gulf of Mexico spill and the energy and climate change committee will examine the hazards of drilling in deeper waters west of Shetland. And Energy Secretary Chris Huhne announced a stepping up of HSE inspections on all rigs in UK waters to ensure all possible safety measures are taken.
If oil is extractable at both Blakeney and Cladhan it will reaffirm the Scottish Government’s claims on a greater share of national UK profit from North Sea oil.