BP Amoco and Shell have been major participants in the exploration activity in the deep water, West of Shetland, U.K.C.S. which has led to two new oil fields producing less than 6 years after discovery. The discovery of Foinaven and Schiehallion, both named after Scottish mountains, not only involved detailed technical understanding of the seismic response and rock properties, but also commitment by the participants to the vision of opening a new basin.

This paper reviews the historical exploration effort West of Shetland (W.o.S.) and then focuses on BP's discovery of both the producing fields. It describes the critical role of integrating careful seismic processing/analysis with the rock and fluid properties to exploit the Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators (D.H.I.'s). These were applied to reduce exploration risk and build the drilling strategy.

The discoveries also fundamentally changed the oil industry's perception of the basin. This led to a large investment in new acreage, widespread 3-D seismic surveys and a flurry of deepwater drilling activity. However, to date, no commercial discoveries have been announced outwith the main Foinaven-Schiehallion fairway. This paper concludes with an overview of the type of future opportunities that may exist within the basin.

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