There is more than 20 years’ worth of gas production in the southern North Sea, according to the Aberdeen-based Oil and Gas Authority.
Production is expected to continue until at least 2035, despite the current downturn, a House of Commons’ reception for 200 members of the East of England energy industry were told, offering a beacon of hope during difficult times.
And the southern North Sea could continue to meet 20% of the UK’s energy needs for the another two decades, said Eric Marston, OGA area manager.
“Supply chain companies from the East of England should hold on to that thought,” he told the event, where guests included British energy minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe and Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth.
Marston added: “More than 3.7 trillion cubic feet of gas is still to be produced from the southern North Sea from existing developments, and a further 5 trillion cubic feet of gas from the further development of existing reservoirs but also undeveloped discoveries.
“The area continues to be a key contributor to the UK’s energy needs. I would expect production to keep going for at least another 20 years, at least until 2035.
“However it isn’t that simple. A significant portion of these opportunities are not easy to access. Much of what is left is in small pool and tight gas opportunities. These resources are increasingly expensive, commercially risky and complex to develop. We need to work on how to harness that potential including both innovative technical and commercial solutions.”
Synergies between the gas industry and the growing offshore wind industry would also be explored including how they could work more effectively and efficiently together.
Marston added: “Both industries share the same parts of the southern North Sea and need the same skills to get the work done and similar means of getting people to and from their offshore facilities “
Baroness Neville-Rolfe praised the work of the “brilliant region” of the East of England Energy Group to a packed Members’ Dining Room, representing small supply chain companies, major North Sea operators, wind farm developers and industry organisations.
She said: “Despite the southern North Sea being mature basin, there remains potential. The OGA is currently exploring the potential of the East of England to be an energy hub.”
She would soon make an announcement on future Contracts for Difference auctions for new offshore wind farms, she added.
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said the packed room was “testament to the industry and the great work EEEGR does.
“It is good to be able to make our message clear that we have a fantastic offer – and the whole energy offer, nuclear, oil, gas and renewables.” **
The meeting was sponsored in part by the Norwegian state-owned operator, Statoil.
** COMMENT: This ‘joined-up’ unified industry association approach is in marked contrast to the ‘separate silos’ approach of various trade bodies in Scotland.