OIL and gas industry leaders have hailed news that international giants have made a bumper find east of Aberdeen, which they said showed there was still lots to go for in the mature North Sea.

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Total made a find that is estimated to contain 250 million barrels recoverable with a well drilled with China’s CNOOC and Edison of Italy.

Experts said the find may be the biggest made on the Uniited Kingdom Continental Shelf for more than a decade.

The success comes after Total made a major gas discovery West of Shetland with the Glendronach well in September. This stoked excitement about the potential of the relatively under-explored waters off Shetland, which is still considered to be a frontier area.

The Glengorm find has provided a reminder that there are still big finds to be made in areas of the North Sea in which there has been much more drilling over the years.

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It will boost hopes that exploration activity may recover after falling to record lows in the wake of the crude price plunge which took a heavy toll on the UK North Sea.

“There is a lot of hype around frontier areas like West of Shetland, where Total discovered the Glendronach field last year,” noted Kevin Swann at oil and gas consultancy Wood Mackenzie. “But Glengorm is in in the Central North Sea and this find shows there is still life in some of the more mature UK waters.”

Noting that Glengorm looked to be the largest gas discovery in the UK since Culzean in 2008, Mr Swann said the strike represented a good start to what could prove to be a pivotal year for UK exploration. Oil and gas firms plan to drill several potentially high impact wells this year.

Trade body Oil & Gas UK said Glengorm was a major milestone towards adding another generation of productive life to the UK North Sea and provided a great example of firms collaborating to unlock its potential.

Glengorm was found in the kind of high pressure/high temperature zone that can pose production challenges.

However, the field lies relatively close to existing production facilities which it could be connected to, including the Elgin Franklin field operated by Total.

“Our strong position in the region will enable us to leverage existing infrastructures nearby and optimize the development of this discovery,” noted Kevin McLachlan, senior vice president exploration at the French oil giant.

He added: “Glengorm is an achievement that demonstrates our capacity to create value in a mature environment thanks to our in-depth understanding of the basin.”

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The well was operated by state-owned CNOOC. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation established a big position in the UK North Sea through the $15bn acquisition of Canada’s Nexen in 2013. It operates the giant Buzzard and Golden Eagle fields and is one of the biggest oil producers in the UK.

Executive vice president Xie Yuhong said Glengorm demonstrated the great exploration potential of the exploration licence it was found on. The company is looking forward to doing appraisal work on the find.

On its website CNOOC describes the UK as a key production area with significant room for growth. It employs around 900 people in the country.

Edison has interests in a range of producing North Sea fields and exploration licences. The company says it will continue to build its UK portfolio through farm-ins and future licensing rounds.

The Oil & Gas Authority said with between 10 and 20 billion barrels to be recovered on the UKCS there is every chance of yet more significant finds being made. It noted only seven exploration wells were drilled in 2018.

CNOOC has a 50 per cent interest in the licence containing Glengorm, with Total and Edison on 25% each.

Total acquired its interest in the licence through the £5.8bn takeover of Maersk Oil in 2017.