French energy giant Total announced gas from its flagship Laggan-Tormore project, off the Shetland Islands in the North Sea, started flowing to the mainland today.
Laggan-Tormore, which is the first new large gas field in Britain since 2013, will eventually supply 2m households, meeting about eight per cent of the UK’s energy needs.
"Laggan-Tormore is a key component of our production growth in 2016 and beyond," Arnaud Breuillac, president of exploration and production, said in a statement.
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"By opening up this new production hub in the deep offshore waters of the West of Shetland, Total is also boosting the United Kingdom's production capacity and Europe's energy security."
It’s hoped that the project, and others like it, will help stem the longer-term decline of the UK’s oil and gas industry. Britain’s oil and gas output has fallen by about two thirds since 2000 as production has declined from ageing infrastructure.
Recently, its woes have been compounded by historically low oil prices, with Brent crude hovering around multi-year lows. Analysts have warned this is making oil fields uneconomic and increasingly likely to be shutdown permanently.
Deirdre Michie, chief executive of industry group Oil & Gas UK, welcomed the news, saying it comes at a challenging time for the UK oil and gas industry as a whole.
"Developing the field attracted billions of pounds of investment to the UK, employed thousands of people and required technological innovation over many years" she said.
Total has a 60 per cent interest in the fields, while partners DONG Energy and SSE each hold 20 per cent.
The companies added that the nearby Edradour and Glenlivet fields, which they are also developing, are expected to start production in 2017 and 2018.