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Ted Strachan: The man who broke story of North Sea oil find dies aged 91

Ted Strachan and his front page scoop,
Ted Strachan and his front page scoop,

One of the North-east’s best-known journalists, and The Press and Journal reporter widely acclaimed for being the first to bring news of the North Sea oil boom, Ted Strachan, has died at the age of 91.

The sensational scoop was broken to the world just over 50 years ago by Edward Dean Strachan, who belonged to Elgin and had been industrial correspondent at The Press and Journal since 1964.

He revealed that a consortium headed by Phillips Petroleum had discovered an oilfield with an estimated 2.8 billion barrels of reserve and lay hard upon a dividing line but on the Norwegian side.

The Press and Journal front page from April 28, 1970.

It was the first sign of what lay elsewhere in the North Sea.

British Petroleum’s discovery of the Forties Field in British waters gave final proof oil was here in large quantities.

This was followed by Shell’s discovery of the Brent Field.

Our then broadsheet exclusive was one half of a remarkable day for Ted.

Another of his stories shared page one: the famous Rubislaw Quarry, symbol of Aberdeen and its granite industry for nearly two-and-a-half centuries, was closing down.

Rubislaw Quarry, Aberdeen, in 1975.

That historic day for The Press and Journal was Tuesday, April 28, 1970. Ted later became the paper’s chief industrial correspondent.

Ted was struck by a wanderlust in his late teens and spent some time in Canada where he was a kitchen porter on paddle steamers crossing the Great Lakes.

He began his journalistic career as a sports reporter on the weekly Elgin Courant before joining the P&J and Evening Express at our district offices in Elgin and Inverness from 1953 until 1955.

Broad Street

Ted joined the head office reporting staff in Broad Street, Aberdeen, in 1960. He became a features writer with the P&J that year and four years later became industrial correspondent.

Coverage of the North Sea oil boom gained him Fellowship of the Institute of Petroleum in 1972.

Ted left the paper in 1975 to become UK editor of Noroil, an oil magazine based in Stavanger, Norway. One of his farewell gifts was a priceless bottle of North Sea oil from Shell UK.

Father of chapel

During his career he was National Union of Journalists Aberdeen branch father of chapel and also secretary. This led to a lifetime award from the union.

In the early 1980s he left Noroil to form his own company, Aberdeen Petroleum Publishing, and finally retired around 15 years ago.

Ted and his wife Dorothy, also from Elgin, married in 1963.

They lived in Westhill where he had been an elder of Skene Parish Church since 1986, latterly an emeritus elder.

Tribute

Ted  is survived by Dorothy, son Boyd, daughter-in-law Slavomira and grandson Mark. He died peacefully at home with Dorothy by his side.

Former P&J assistant news editor Neil Watson said: “I knew Ted for almost 60 years. He had an amazing list of contacts, particularly in the oil industry, all over the world.

“He had a great sense of humour, particularly when recalling the Moray mafia of reporters who, at one time, ruled the roost in the Aberdeen newsroom.”

Businessman Sir Ian Wood said: “I remember Ted Strachan from a long, long time ago when he covered fishing for The Press and Journal.

“He then moved on, a few years later than I did, from fishing to offshore oil and gas where he was our media oil and gas expert for many years as the industry got under way and grew.

“He was popular, fair, reasonable and measured in his comments and a real gentleman. We will miss him.”

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