Fracking has been around ‘for decades’ in Scotland

A demonstration against fracking. Picture: PA
A demonstration against fracking. Picture: PA
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FRACKING concerns have intensified in recent years – but it’s been happening in Scotland for decades.

One of the earliest schemes happened in the mid-1960s when BP and British Gas had limited success in drilling in Salsburgh in West Lothian, an area which has a long history of oil and gas production.

But one of the most successful fracking schemes in Scotland in recent decades was not in a rural outpost, but in the country’s biggest city.

A well was drilled in 1989 in front of Bargeddie church, Easterhouse at the junction of the M73 and M8 inside the Glasgow city boundary. The well was drilled and tested, before fracking in November of that year resulted in gas flowing up the well until mid-December. At this stage the well was shut-in for the pressure build-up. At it’s height, it was producing 2.2 million cubic feet of gas a day. And while yesterday’s moratorium applies to onshore projects, fracking is now pivotal for offshore oil and gas extraction in the North Sea.


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Onshore oil and gas extraction more generally has a long history in Scotland, stretching back to Glaswegian James “Paraffin” Young, one of the great pioneers of the global oil industry. He was one of the first to produce unrefined oil when he started mining for shale oil and gas in the 1850s. His technique resulted in 75 million barrels being exttracted in West Lothian, including up to two million a year in the war years, which had a significant impact on the war effort.

Aberdeen’s first oil baron was Lord Pearson, who enjoyed success drilling for oil and gas in fields near West Calder and Dalkeith.