Oil! Why Isn't It In the English Channel!

There's been considerable debate about north sea oil and how it is mostly going to be claimed by Scotland in the event that they decide to break from the UK.

It's not just north sea oil though. In some way's, that's been a distraction. Events in the middle east are moving on at an alarming pace and that's a much larger producer of black gold than the north sea.

What though is the science behind where oil exists and where it doesn't? It's widely known that oil is basically the detritus of ancient forests that have rotted over millions of years. It's also widely known that huge swathes of the world were covered in those forests millions of years ago.

So why is it only in places like the north sea etc.

I thought prehistoric Britain for example was a huge forest? If it was, why can't we go out and dig a well perhaps on Clapham Common and start pumping the stuff out of the ground. Why didn't our forest break down over millions of years and produce oil?

Why there and not here?

Your thoughts and insight please Gentlemen.
 
All our carbon fuels were laid down in the Carboniferous. The only exception I can think of is peat, and possibly marsh gas (but that's not much use).

Prehistoric forests will not cut the mustard. Not big enough and not enough time.

There is oil in Southern England but is difficult to extract. Thus the fracking controversy.

More to the point is does the North Sea oil actually belong mainly to Scotland? I worked for a geophysical company in the mid-70s and we did work all over the North Sea.

I remember reading articles which described how international law divvied up the sea bed between England, Scotland, Holland, Denmark and Norway. Most of the oil fields (in the western part) seemed to belong to the English bit because the equidistant dividing line ran roughly north east.

It may be that we worked out/depleted the southernmost fields and opened new ones to the north but I would like to dig out those maps.
 
There's been considerable debate about north sea oil and how it is mostly going to be claimed by Scotland in the event that they decide to break from the UK.

It's not just north sea oil though. In some way's, that's been a distraction. Events in the middle east are moving on at an alarming pace and that's a much larger producer of black gold than the north sea.

What though is the science behind where oil exists and where it doesn't? It's widely known that oil is basically the detritus of ancient forests that have rotted over millions of years. It's also widely known that huge swathes of the world were covered in those forests millions of years ago.

So why is it only in places like the north sea etc.

I thought prehistoric Britain for example was a huge forest? If it was, why can't we go out and dig a well perhaps on Clapham Common and start pumping the stuff out of the ground. Why didn't our forest break down over millions of years and produce oil?

Why there and not here?

Your thoughts and insight please Gentlemen.

You need:

Source rock - dead stuff
Maturation conditions - ie buried at a the correct pressure and temperature and amount of time
You need a reservoir rock for it too migrate into - eg like a sandstone which is like a sponge
You then need a trap - ie something to keep it in the reservoir rock - like clay or salt

If all these conditions aren't there you don't get oil - as demonstrated by why we have coal fields in the land bit of uk, but oil offshore - same sources, but different conditions.
 
D

Deleted 60082

Guest
More to the point is does the North Sea oil actually belong mainly to Scotland? I worked for a geophysical company in the mid-70s and we did work all over the North Sea.

I remember reading articles which described how international law divvied up the sea bed between England, Scotland, Holland, Denmark and Norway. Most of the oil fields (in the western part) seemed to belong to the English bit because the equidistant dividing line ran roughly north east.

On the basis of stare decisis, arbitration over maritime boundaries will take direction from the North Sea Continental Shelf case at the ICJ 1969 and the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf. In essence, the maritime boundaries are projected at the bearing the land border would cross the coast.

So British Troops will have to learn about another Geneva Convention if Scotland cessions.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Remember 'Scotland' was not a signatory of the original agreement over north sea oil rights or even boundaries so therefore doesn't automatically have any rights at all.
 
D

Deleted 60082

Guest
Remember 'Scotland' was not a signatory of the original agreement over north sea oil rights or even boundaries so therefore doesn't automatically have any rights at all.
Not quite true...there are clear precedents when countries split - successors rights and tha'. For example the Czech Republic and Slovakia; Split up of the USSR...
 
Not quite true...there are clear precedents when countries split - successors rights and tha'. For example the Czech Republic and Slovakia; Split up of the USSR...
Fair point indeed. But were they 'automatic' or negotiated? I genuinely don't know.
 
There's been considerable debate about north sea oil and how it is mostly going to be claimed by Scotland in the event that they decide to break from the UK.

It's not just north sea oil though. In some way's, that's been a distraction. Events in the middle east are moving on at an alarming pace and that's a much larger producer of black gold than the north sea.

What though is the science behind where oil exists and where it doesn't? It's widely known that oil is basically the detritus of ancient forests that have rotted over millions of years. It's also widely known that huge swathes of the world were covered in those forests millions of years ago.

So why is it only in places like the north sea etc.

I thought prehistoric Britain for example was a huge forest? If it was, why can't we go out and dig a well perhaps on Clapham Common and start pumping the stuff out of the ground. Why didn't our forest break down over millions of years and produce oil?

Why there and not here?

Your thoughts and insight please Gentlemen.
Cheers for your musings Cletus.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Go to Ashdown Forest in Sussex. You'll see traces of oil seeping from the ground in one or two places. Unfortunately, its an area of outstanding natural beauty which precludes exploration.

Wordsmith
 
Fair point indeed. But were they 'automatic' or negotiated? I genuinely don't know.

Depends. The Vienna Convention on the Succession of States is probably the closest, although that applies to something like creation of two successor states, rather than secession. If the convention does apply then Scotland inherits a number of positions, if not then it doesn't and has to accede to them.

If Scotland has to accede to, for example, the UN and the EU then it'll have the opportunity to sign up to these obligations. If it doesn't sign up regardless then the prospect for acession becomes quite limited.
 

T0m94

Old-Salt
It's not that it isn't all over the place, it's that most of it wouldn't be economically viable to drill.

Tom
 

NSP

LE
On the basis of stare decisis, arbitration over maritime boundaries will take direction from the North Sea Continental Shelf case at the ICJ 1969 and the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf. In essence, the maritime boundaries are projected at the bearing the land border would cross the coast.

So British Troops will have to learn about another Geneva Convention if Scotland cessions.
Here's the carve-up as it stands at the moment, which is pretty self-explanatory:-
64848_exclusive-economic-zones-in-the-north-sea.png

Here's what Scotland's EEZ will look like, based on Mr. Blair's 1999 Berwick border-shifting legislation:-

0067490.jpg


And the same with the oil (red) and gas (green) fields on it (it's a bit tiddly, hence using the nice big one above for clarity):-

orkney+shetland+marine.jpg


That southernmost cluster of red that straddles the England/Scotland maritime boundary sends most of it's output to England through the CATS pipeline so I imagine HM Treasury will be taking a big chunk of the tax and duty Salmond thinks he's due, even from the fields inside the Scottish zone that pump to English refineries, because it's landed inside the rUK territorial limit.

Whilst I was digging up the graphics I came across this, which may be interesting if not totally relevant to the thread topic:-
http://nat-mythbusting.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/border-barminess-part-ii-scotlands.html

Edited for a better EEZ boundary map.
 
Last edited:
B

bokkatankie

Guest
Here's the carve-up as it stands at the moment, which is pretty self-explanatory:-

North_sea_eez.PNG

Not that self-explanatory, what is the black line that seems to cut randomly across onshore borders for?
 

Latest Threads

Top