Southern UK North Sea marks first gas find anniversary

Offshore staff

GREAT YARMOUTH, UK -- Fifty years ago today, BP drilled the first gas discovery in the UK North Sea at the West Sole field.

The 5,600-ton rig Sea Gem drilled the well, with the reaction of the drilling fluid returning from the bottom of the well indicating the presence of hydrocarbons.

Drilling continued to a depth of 10,000 ft (3,048 m), and by the end of 1965, a 12-m (39-ft) high flare was burning at the top of the rig.

Later that year came a second gas discovery in the region on the Viking field, followed by further finds in 1966 on the Leman Bank, Indefatigable, and Hewett structures.

Five decades on, more gas continues to be developed in the southern North Sea, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, points out, while over the next 50 years, the focus will be increasingly on prolonging the life of UK oil and gas assets throughout the North Sea or decommissioning others nearing the end of field life.

Recently, Veolia-Peterson announced it would construct a £1-million ($1.55-million) decommissioning facility in Great Yarmouth’s Outer Harbor.


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