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Has a ‘secret oil field’ been discovered?

In the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, nationalists repeatedly claimed the existence of a ‘secret oil field' had been covered up to help the pro-UK campaign. Has it now been discovered?

“We can’t wait until Scotland’s media finds out that those mad paranoid tinfoil-hatted Nats were right all along and there WAS a massive oil field that nobody was told about before the referendum, in exactly the place they all said it was.”


Wings Over Scotland, 23rd November 2018

The Claim:


“Courtesy of @WingsScotland, have [journalists] @alexmassie and @LeaskyHT retracted their ridicule of the “conspiracy theory oil fields'?"


Christopher McEleny, SNP councillor and former

depute leadership candidate

Twitter, 23rd November 2018



    The facts

  • In July 2014, then-Prime Minister David Cameron visited Shetland. Pro-independence supporters used social media to claim he had visited to hush up an oil find.

  • SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said of the trip: “David Cameron made a secret visit to Shetland to see this important field. But the visit was hushed up along with the latest results of test drilling, which are rumoured to reveal even more oil.”

  • The oil field in question was the Clair oilfield, discovered in 1977.

  • A £4.5billion development phase called ‘Clair Ridge’ received approval from the UK Government in 2011.

  • After years of work, BP recently hit the first oil in the field, and it is estimated there could be 640 million barrels of oil equivalent from the development over
    the next 40 years.

What the experts say


“Safely delivering first oil from Clair Ridge, in some of the harshest conditions in the UKCS (UK continental shelf), is the result of years of planning and hard work by BP, our partners and supply chain colleagues.”

Ariel Flores, regional president for BP’s North Sea business, November 2018.

"We've said there's oil in the Clair oilfield since the 1970s, and we're doing what we said we were going to do in 2011.”

Spokesperson for BP's Aberdeen operation in September 2014.


Scotland in Union Fact Check Conclusion:

Clair Ridge is not a secret oil field. The Clair oil field was first discovered more than 40 years ago, and the UK Government gave the go-ahead for the Clair Ridge project in 2011.


An oil field that is known to exist is not a secret oil field.


If David Cameron wanted to hush up a secret oil field, why would he visit it? (He didn’t – he actually went no further out to sea than a trip around the harbour).

The idea that a giant global company like BP would agree not to extract oil and miss out on a huge profit at the request of the UK Government is as nonsensical today as it always was.

The development work in this well-known field has now paid off and oil has been hit - as had been predicted three years before the referendum. The nationalist cause thrived on conspiracy theories in 2014, but voters saw through the lies –

and they would do so again.


Is there a secret oil field?

An oil field known to exist is not a secret!



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