EXCLUSIVE: Expert warns that N. Sea oil exploration will dry up in 12 years time; meanwhile new Mariner field to support 1,500 east of Shetland jobs

CGI of Mariner platform
CGI of Mariner platform

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

Up to 1,500 North Sea jobs will be supported by the next phase of a North Sea oil field development east of Shetland.

Up to 800 people will carry out hook-up and commissioning work before production starts at the Mariner field in the second half of next year and, when production starts, the field will support 700 permanent jobs.

Mariner is one of the largest oil well projects currently under development in the North Sea by Statoil – the Norwegian state-owned oil-to-wind power conglomerate.

The heavy-oil field has reserves estimated at more than 250 million barrels of oil, with an average plateau production of about 55,000 barrels per day.

Hedda Felin, Statoil UK managing director, said: “The Mariner development will create wider ripple effects in the supply chain for the next 30 years.

“We are privileged to be able to contribute towards job creation and the longevity of the UKCS. Mariner demonstrates that this industry has a positive and exciting future ahead.”

Statoil has a 65.1% stake in Mariner, with Siccar Point Energy among the minority investors.

The Mariner field was discovered in 1981 – 36 years ago at the height of the North Sea ‘gold rush.  But because of the oil’s extremely high viscosity, previous operators have not able to extract it until now.

The North Sea will be an oil exploration 'desert' by 2030.
The North Sea will be an oil exploration ‘desert’ by 2030.

Exploration for new oil and gas fields in the North Sea is expected to dry-up by 2030, according to a professional analyst with an industry marketing intelligence consultancy.

The London-based analyst, said; “In a little over five years’ time –  by 2022 – spending on decommissioning redundant oil rigs will match spending on oil exploration.

“And by 2030, spending on North Sea oil exploration will have dwindled to virtually zero.

“There are some good things happening in the sector. The UK government has funded a new £20 million seismic data programme through OGA and there have been some quite significant new finds and new wells opened this year, with more prospects likely in the next ‘frontier oil’ licensing round.

“But it all depends on the price of crude. In 2014 (at $100-barrel) 100 new wells were drilled in the North Sea. Two years later <at $40-barrel) only 20 new wells were sunk – a bit of a disaster – even although the British government reduced taxation on new oil from 62% to 40% over the same period.”

Meanwhile, Norwegian-based oil consultancy Add Energy has teamed-up with Aberdeen-based counterparts at Matrix Risk Control and STC Global to provide a new service to optimise asset performance.

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