North Sea oil and gas to last for another 20 years, says UK regulator

Gunther Newcombe
Gunther Newcombe

The UK’s petroleum reserves remain at a significant level which could sustain production for the next 20 years – and beyond if additional undeveloped resources can be matured.

The Oil and Gas Authority’s (OGA) report “UK Oil and Gas: Reserves and Resources”, published today, shows that overall remaining recoverable reserves and resources range between 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

The report also includes new information on the UK’s contingent resource levels in producing fields, which presents a significant opportunity for the continued development of the UK’s petroleum resources. These data, previously not reported, were identified through the UKCS Asset Stewardship Survey and collected for the first time from oil and gas operators in 2016.

The OGA’s operations director, Gunther Newcombe said: “The UKCS is a world class petroleum province with 10 to 20 billion barrels of remaining discovered and undiscovered potential.

“The OGA has an important role in helping to steward this resource base, revitalise exploration and maximise economic recovery, working closely with industry and government. Future success of the basin requires attracting additional investment, implementing technology and company collaboration on new and existing developments.”

The report includes the following findings:

To date, a total of 43.5 billion boe has been produced from the UK and UK Continental Shelf – of which 98% is in Scottish territorial waters.

The OGA estimates that UK reserves are approximately 5.7 billion boe (probable) and these alone, based on current production forecasts and not taking into account potential future exploration successes, have the capacity to sustain production for at least the next two decades.

However, there is a significant opportunity to add to these reserves by maturing the UK’s considerable contingent resources. The OGA estimates there are 7.4 billion boe of proved undeveloped resources. Much of this resource is in mature developed areas and under consideration for development. This will require substantial investment in new field developments and incremental projects.

Replacement of proven and probable reserves remains a concern. In 2016 approximately 600 million boe were produced however only 80 million boe of contingent resources were matured to reserves.

Exploration success in 2016 helped add 210 million boe to the contingent resources.

 The OGA’s current estimate of prospective (undiscovered) resources is 6 billion boe, with a range from 1.9 billion boe (lower estimate) to 9.2 billion boe (upper estimate).

Taking account of this range of possibilities for prospective resources, together with the range of discovered reserves and contingent resources shown in the report, the current best estimate of remaining recoverable hydrocarbon resources from the UKCS is in the range 10 to 20 billion boe.

31 Oct 2017

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