Wednesday, February 24, 2010

North Sea Oil and Gas may Provide One Third of Britain's Energy by 2020.

Combined output of North Sea oil and gas has fallen considerably from its heyday at the end of the 1970s to 2.48 million barrels a day last year, a 6% fall from the previous year. It is convenient to account for both oil and gas in terms of the energy equivalent of a barrel of oil, although actual oil production has fallen from just above 3 million bpd in1979 to just over one million bpd now. It has been warned, however, that without further investment in exploration and development of further fields in the North Sea, production of oil and gas will decline to a mere 0.5 million barrels a day by the end of the decade, which amounts to just 11% of Britain's energy needs.

Ofgen chief executive, Alistair Buchanan has aid, "For the next two to three years, with gas supplies and power station availability we are in a powerful position. The problem is the speed at which it deteriorates." The lobby group, Oil and Gas UK thinks that a lack of investment during the past four years has been a main reason for falling gas and oil production levels. 2009 saw a decline in the number of wells drilled by 22% for development and 40% for exploration.

11 billion barrels of oil and gas has been "discovered" in both new and existing operations, which increases the total offshore reserves for the UK to around 25 billion barrels worth. That said, many of the newly identified deposits are located in the central North Sea or to the west of Scotland, and will require deep-water drilling which is expensive.

It is thought that with sufficient investment, UK offshore oil and gas fields could still be producing 1.5 million bpd by 2020, which would meet 35% of the country's total demand for energy. Otherwise, keeping the lights on may prove a challenge since 40% of our electricity is made in gas-fired power stations. Necessarily rising imports of oil for fuel remain a problem in their own right, however, and I predict a steep fall in the number of cars on Britain's roads by 2020 or well before then.

Related Reading.
"North Sea oil could last at least a decade," By Simon Bowers.


Anonymous said...

So much of our self-identity is caught up in the trappings of modernity. Being essentially unprepared by either education or experience, it's very difficult to rethink, let alone abandon, the economic paradigm* built on post-WWII 'cheap' oil. *(having high energy, highly conspicuous consumption, a driven and ambitious agenda whether individual or collective)

Drilling for oil merely because its price has risen does not conjure up the other, equally vital resources such as water. Without those resources (incl. certain metals), the oil is useless; it has little or no inherent value.

Yet detailed warnings along with plausible alternatives and solutions are all out there. The latter do not aim to simply replace the intractable elements of modernity, but to render them unnecessary.

My co-blogger and I share this site:
My own site is -
Both sites provide both links and a means to find portals related to sustainability.

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi George,

the new (oil-free) paradigm is SO difficult to conceive of that I suspect we will go for business as usual until that begins to fragment.

The tragedy of this sate of denial is that by the time the status quo does begin to fail, there will be little we can do to inaugurate the brave new "world without oil", as there will be no practical plan B in place.

Indeed, it is not only the getting of oil per se that is the problem, and many metals especially as used in the electronics/solar energy industry are in short supply. Water as a resource is a separate issue, e.g. tar-sands oil.

I agree, the only solution is to live with less energy either by design or default and really design is the only way forward; default = anarchy.

On your blog you stress many innovative ideas but all such possibilities need to be got up and running at least on the local level, which is where our only sustainable future is to be had, while schemes of global dimensions (and their economies) fail.