Scotlands History

North Sea oil

Until the 1960s all UK oil supplies were imported - at huge cost. The UK Continental Shelf Act came into force in 1964 and UK exploration licences were issued for the North Sea. The first well was drilled in 1967.  The first major find was AMOCO’s Montrose field in 1969, followed by BP with Forties field in 1970, and Shell with the Brent field off Shetland in 1971.

No oil came ashore until the infrastructure of connecting pipelines and terminal facilities was completed – Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire received the first North Sea oil in 1975. World oil prices for 1973–4 were vastly increased by OPEC, making high North Sea production costs viable. Exploration peaked with 80 wells drilled. Supporting manufacturing industries produced and maintained pipelines, rigs, platforms, supply vessels, pumps and cranes, and made the North Sea oil industry ‘one of the major industrial achievements of the 20th century’.

The industry continues to push the boundaries of oil exploration technology.

  • Photograph of a North Sea oil platform

Click on the image to view a larger version.