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1975: North Sea oil begins to flow

VIDEO : The Queen opens the first UK oil pipeline

The Queen has formally begun the operation of the UK's first oil pipeline at a 500,000 ceremony in Scotland.

The 130-mile (209-kilometre) pipeline from Cruden Bay to Grangemouth has been built by British Petroleum (BP).

The pipeline serves the Forties oilfield 110 miles east of Aberdeen, which the company discovered six years ago.

The Queen inaugurated the flow of oil by pushing a gold-plated button in BP's control centre at Dyce near Aberdeen.

She was accompanied by Prince Philip and Prince Andrew.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson also attended with the Scottish Secretary and other senior cabinet colleagues.

The inauguration by Her Majesty and the presence of so many high-ranking politicians in Dyce - a town scarcely on the map a year ago - is seen as testament to the importance being placed on North Sea oil.

'Tartan Army'

The Forties is the largest oilfield so far discovered in the British sector of the North Sea.

It is being mined with the help of a 370m loan from the British government.

Production will start this month at a rate of 10,000 barrels per day.

Within two to three years the field is expected to yield 400,000 barrels per day - about a fifth of Britain's oil consumption.

The ceremony to mark the field's official opening was marked by Scotland's largest-ever police operation.

Officials were worried by threats from the so-called "Tartan Army" to disrupt the ceremony or bomb the pipeline which contains nearly 30 million gallons of oil.

The group has said it was behind four attempts to damage the pipeline in the past two years.

None of the attacks caused serious damage but the Tartan Army said they had only been "dress rehearsals".

In Context
Britain's North Sea oil did not emerge immediately as a key rival to that produced by nations in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

But output grew as major discoveries continued throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.

However, the 1997-1998 oil price collapse had negative effects on North Sea production.

Norway, the Netherlands and Germany also extract oil from their portions of the North Sea but on a smaller scale.

After years of declining production and job losses, the industry in Scotland was given a boost in 2001 with the discovery of the Buzzard oilfield near Aberdeen.

It contains an estimated 400 million barrels of oil.

Another smaller find was made in 2004. The Brenda oilfield in the Outer Moray Firth could yield up to 150 million barrels.


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