People With Energy News

How Much Oil is Left in the North Sea?

Posted on November 28, 2018

Oil rig platform in the north sea

During the build up to the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, there was much debate about the future of the North Sea oil fields and indeed how much oil was left to be extracted. In 2014 it was widely reported that 42 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) had been taken from the North Sea since production began in the sixties, and a potential 24 billion boe could remain – equivalent to 35 years’ worth of production. However since 2014 oil production has been on a steady decline, and there have been far less generous reports on how much oil remains to be extracted. 

The amount of potential oil in the North Sea is always an educated guess, with different reports giving vastly different estimations – and of course debate over proven, probable and possible reserves. In a report published in March this year, the industry body the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) gave a projection of 11.7billion boe over the period 2016-2050. In November this year the OGA published a report on the reserves and resources of the UK continental shelf (UKCS) which estimated recoverable petroleum resources in the range of 10-20 billion boe, including discovered and undiscovered resources. 

While there remains many years (and many billions of pounds) worth of oil and gas in the North Sea and the UKCS, drilling activity is at a 50 year low. The number of new oil and gas wells being drilled has fallen to the lowest level since 1965 – the second year that activity began in the basin. The Oil & Gas UK Economic Report 2018 said that the industry was “at a crossroads”, as it faces a huge task of decommissioning old platforms and conservative investments and of course the volatile oil prices. 

The OGA has outlined the potential for the region to continue to be a leading source of energy, jobs and revenue in it’s Vision 2035 which it has called a “shared ambition, which sets out both the potential opportunity for the industry and how it can be secured.” The key objectives of the plan are to add a generation of productive life to the basin and to double the long-term opportunities for the supply chain. 

More than 280,000 jobs are supported by the oil and gas industry across the UK, and while it’s an industry that faces many changes on the horizon it is still a major employer with many opportunities no matter what stage of your career you’re at. If you’re looking for a new position, get in touch with one of our consultants or browse vacancies online

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