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Discover North Sea Oil

Maritime Museum - North Sea Oil

During the 1960s, the North Sea was searched for oil and gas. A method called Seismic Survey was used to identify potential drill sites where oil may be present beneath the seabed. Not all oil discovered could be extracted. Some was found in very deep water or in small amounts. The first oil was pumped ashore in June 1975 and current predictions suggest production will continue until the mid 21st century.

The North Sea Oil display shows some of the equipment used in the drilling process. The drilling scene shows men using power tongs to clamp drilling pipe together. The Control Room shows where a platform's drilling and production activities are monitored. The giant red Christmas Tree Valve sits on top of pipes which carry oil from the seabed to the platform. It channels the oil to the platform's production facilities.

Seismic Survey
Used Rock Drill Bit From North Sea Oil Field, c. 1970Seismic Survey was used to identify potential drill sites where oil may be present beneath the seabed. Seismic waves were fired at the seabed from an air gun, towed behind a survey vessel. The waves' travel time from the gun to a receiver was measured. Different rock layers reflected waves back at varying speeds, building up a picture of the seabed. Likely drill sites were then chosen. The drill consisted of a steel tube, the drill string, and a rotating bit, with steel or diamond teeth. Drilling mud controlled pressure and kept the bit cool. This mud also brought rock fragments back up the shaft which were analysed for hydrocarbon.