WHILE exploration levels have fallen to record lows in UK waters amid the fall in the oil price since 2014, news that Total has made a bumper find West of Shetland will fuel hopes activity may be set to increase.

Read more: Bumper gas find stokes excitement about West of Shetland frontier

If Total is right in thinking the Glendronach field contains around a trillion cubic feet of gas, the find would be the biggest made in UK waters since the Culzean discovery in 2008.

That would underline the potential of an area in which majors have kept busy completing giant developments and identifying exploration targets amid the challenging conditions seen in recent years.

They have been prepared to keep investing because of the scale of the prospects they have worked on in an area in which there has been relatively little drilling over the years.

Total’s success will increase the appeal of West of Shetland for those who may feel there is only a small chance of making a find of the size of Glendronach in well-drilled areas of the North Sea off Scotland.

Kevin Swann, senior research manager, North Sea, at the Wood Mackenzie consultancy said Glendronach will stimulate interest in West of Shetland among investors who fund oil and gas firms.

A fall in the cost of support services since 2014, combined with advances in technology and the rally in the crude price in recent months has provided a spur to exploration. The fact majors have installed infrastructure West of Shetland in recent years that other finds could be linked to could help embolden firms to go where others may have feared to tread in the past.