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Offshore Drilling: Oil

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) whether permission is required for exploratory drilling for oil or other minerals within (a) three miles, (b) six miles or (c) 200 miles or the median line off the coast of the UK; (208895)

(2) when exploratory drilling last took place for (a) oil, (b) other sources of energy and (c) minerals off the coast of (i) the Isles of Scilly, (ii) Cornwall and (iii) South West England, and in the wider Western Approaches and Celtic Sea;

(3) what records he holds of exploratory drilling for (a) oil, (b) other sources of energy and (c) minerals within 200 miles or the median line from the coast of (i) the Isles of Scilly, (ii) Cornwall and (iii) South West England;

(4) what (a) records and (b) maps his Department holds of (i) oil, (ii) other sources of energy and (iii) other mineral resources identified within 200 miles or the median line off the coast of the UK.

The Department holds, or has access to, records of all UK drilling activity to search for or get petroleum. It also holds maps of all producing oil and gas fields on the UK Continental Shelf and onshore, and details of UK offshore wind farm locations. Records or maps are not held by my Department for other mineral deposits.

The following drilling activity has taken place for oil and gas off the coasts of (i) the Isles of Scilly, (ii) Cornwall and (iii) South West England, in the area out to the respective median lines and (iv) in the wider Western Approaches and Celtic sea:

Area

Location

Block/well number(s)

Operator

Date

(i)

Isles of Scilly

83/24- 1

D. Energy1

1977

86/18- 1

BP

1979

85/28- 1A

BP

1982

86/17-1

Murphy

1983

(ii)

S. Cornwall

87/14- 1

D. Energy1

1977

87/16- 1

D. Energy1

1977

88/02-1

D. Energy1

1977

87/12- 1A

BP

1979

(ii)

N. Cornwall

93/02- 1

BP

1974

93/06- 1

BP

1977

93/02- 2

BP

1986

93/02 - 3

BP

1989

(iii)

South Western Approaches

72/10- 1A

BP

1979

73/07- 1

Conoco

1981

74/01- 1A

BG

1982

73/08- 1

Chevron

1982

73/12- 1A

Lasmo

1982

73/01- 1A

BP

1982

73/02- 1

A. Hess

1983

73/05- 1

BP

1983

73/04- 1

Chevron

1983

73/13- 1

Murphy

1983

73/06- 1

BP

1986

73/14-1

Murphy

1986

(iv)

Wider Western Approaches and Celtic sea

102/28- 1

Shell

1973

103/18- 1

Shell

1976

103/21- 1

BP

1976

102/29- 1

Conoco

1977

103/02- 1

Texaco

1977

102/28-2

Conoco

1991

103/01- 1

Marathon

1994

103/01a-2

Marathon

2005

1 Drilled on behalf of the (then) Department of Energy.

No records are held by my Department for drilling activity for other sources of energy and minerals.

Under the terms of the Petroleum Act 1998, written permission from the Secretary of State is required for all exploration drilling in UK, apart from exploration for coal onshore and within the UK’s territorial waters. This requires the written consent of our non-departmental public body, the Coal Authority.

I am advised by the Coal Authority that identified coal deposits lie off the coast of the UK in the Firth of Forth, North East England, Yorkshire and East Anglia, Kent, North and South Wales, the Irish sea and the North West of England. These have been mined in certain areas and explored in others to varying degrees and the Coal Authority and the British Geological Survey hold records of past mining and exploration works.

In addition coal and lignite (brown coal) occurs in basins in the South Celtic sea and St George’s Channel off the coasts of South West England but the Coal Authority do not hold any records of exploratory drilling into these deposits.