There’s ‘still life’ in North Sea as production forecast is boosted

Cygnus Bravo, the satellite wellhead platform in the Southern North Sea’s Cygnus development. Picture: Supplied by The Big Partnership.

Cygnus Bravo, the satellite wellhead platform in the Southern North Sea’s Cygnus development. Picture: Supplied by The Big Partnership.

The Big Partnership

An upgrade in the forecast for the amount of oil and gas to be produced from UK waters over the next three decades shows there is still “life” in the Southern North Sea (SNS).

A report from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has predicted fuel production will be 2.8 billion barrels higher than previously anticipated over the next 30 years.

Simon Gray, chief executive of industry body East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), said the report showed “there is still life in the old dog” and was good news for operators and the supply chain in the East.

Last year production in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) had been “maintained at a level not seen since 2011”.

The industry body has now revised upwards its projection for the North Sea over the period 2016 to 2050 to a total of 11.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

It is higher than had been forecast before leading industry figure Sir Ian Wood produced a report on maximising yield in the North Sea in 2014.

A new report on oil and gas production and expenditure from the OGA said the industry in the UK had produced 1.63 million boe a day in 2017.

The report was released a day after EEEGR’s SNS2018 energy conference was due to be held in Norwich before heavy snow forced its cancellation.

Mr Gray said SNS had been due to hear from Shell, Spirit Energy and others who were investing in the region and the latest announcement showed there was still plenty to be positive about.

He said: “There is still decades of gas in the Southern North Sea and for the interim period, before we get next-stage nuclear and before energy storage comes into use, gas is where it is at.

“Shell have spent a fortune on the rejuvenation of Bacton and really shown they are committed for the long-term. There are some really exciting things happening with Independent Oil and Gas buying the old Thames pipeline and Spirit Energy investing in Cygnus and Chiswick.”

Operating costs rose by 3% in 2017 with capital expenditure falling for the third consecutive year.

OGA chief executive Andy Samuel said: “The extra 2.8 billion barrels identified shows the future potential of the basin which could be boosted further through investment and exploration successes.”

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