UK oil and gas production rises to 1.7mn boe/d in 2018

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Oil and gas production in the UK increased by more than 4% in 2018, averaging 1.7mn boe/d, according to new report from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). The Projections of UK oil and gas production and expenditure report also estimates that UK oil and gas production over the period 2016–2050 will be 3.9bn boe higher than projections four years ago (in March 2015). Compared with the previous projection last year, this is equivalent to gaining an additional four years of production (at the present rate) from the UK's currently largest producing oil field.

In 2018, oil production alone rose to 1.09mn b/d
up 8.9% on the previous year and the highest UK oil production rate since 2011. This increase can be attributed to over 30 new fields coming onstream since 2015, improved production efficiency and asset integrity, the realisation of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects and the UK’s offshore licensing rounds’ continued focus on associated exploration, appraisal and development commitments.

Meanwhile in 2018, gas production fell by 3.5% to 0.61mn boe/d, while operating costs (opex) rose slightly and capital expenditure again fell significantly in the basin.

The projections and estimates of expenditure were provided to the Office for Budget Responsibility ahead of the UK Chancellor’s Spring Statement on 13 March 2019 and are based on data collected from the OGA’s UKCS Stewardship Survey. Detailed field-by-field data was provided to the OGA in early 2019 by all current UKCS oil and gas operators.

Other findings of the report include:

  • Total opex rose by 6.4%, driven by higher activity, while unit operating cost (UOC) rose only marginally by 2.2%, from £11.4/boe in 2017 to £11.6/boe in 2018, indicating stable cost efficiency.
  • Capital expenditure (capex) fell for the fourth straight year. However, this downward trend of UK oil and gas upstream investment is expected to be halted in 2019, with a 4% increase projected.
  • Annual decommissioning expenditure has risen year-on-year since 2015, with 2017 to 2018 seeing a 9% increase to £1.45bn, reflecting a higher level of decommissioning activity taking place. The five-year outlook (2019–2023) projection for decommissioning expenditure is down 18% from the previous assessment last year.

Head of Performance, Planning and Reporting at the OGA, Loraine Pace, says: ‘The 3.9bn barrels identified is great news, with 2018 being a productive year. New discoveries such as Glendronach and Glengorm highlight the future potential of the basin which could be boosted further with new investment, exploration successes and resource progression. The OGA continually supports industry in efforts to revitalise exploration, through Area Plans and promoting new technologies.’

Photo: BP 

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