A major gas field expected to provide around 3% of the UK’s supplies started production off the north east coast of Scotland today.
Production at the Goldeneye field, owned mainly by Shell and Esso, is seen as a welcome boost given the UK’s increasing dependency on gas imports. It should also secure thousands of jobs in Scotland.
Increasingly rare North Sea supplies have made the UK less self-sufficient and experts believe it will become a net importer in the next couple of years.
Shell said the £300m (€433.4m) project at Outer Moray Firth, 60 miles off the north east coast of Scotland, had begun on time and within budget.
It is expected to produce around 300 million cubic feet of gas and associated liquids every day. This is the first time gas has been brought ashore from the Outer Moray Firth area.
Shell has a 49% stake in the field, while Esso has 39%, Paladin Resources 7.5% and Centrica 4.5%.
The field was initially considered economically marginal when it was discovered in 1996 due to its distance from existing infrastructure.
But Shell created a 90-mile pipeline allowing it to transfer gas to its plant at St Fergus.
Kieron McFayden, of Shell Exploration & Production, said: “Goldeneye will provide around 3% of the gas for the UK, so will make a significant contribution for the UK in the future, as the country becomes a net importer of gas.”