When a new oil or gas field is discovered, one of the issues for the owners to decide is the name of the field. They can choose any name they like, although the approval of the host government is usually required.

Considering that it does not really matter, the choice of a name can be surprisingly difficult and sometimes contentious. My favourite story was told by Roland Shaw, the buccaneering and autocratic chairman of Premier Oil, against himself.

In 1986 Premier made a small but commercial oil discovery in the North Sea. Premier and its partners were having difficulty in agreeing a name.

Roland Shaw was married to a Czech lady. I never met her, but rumour in the industry had it that she was a formidable woman and that he was terrified of her. He asked her if she had any suggestions for the name of the new field.

After thinking for a while, she said “what about Acorn?”

“I like your thinking,” said Shaw “from this acorn a mighty oak may grow?”

“No,” replied his wife “I was thinking of an old Czech proverb, that even a blind pig will find an acorn eventually.”

The partners eventually settled on the name Chestnut. The Chestnut Field is still producing.

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.