Aberdeen oil and gas bonanza with £1.5 trillion still under the North Sea

Posted on 6 Dec 2012

The North Sea still has £1.5 trillion worth of oil and gas reserves to exploit, according to a new research carried out by Aberdeen University.

Scottish Government estimates are that remaining value of the North Sea’s oil reserves represent is far higher than the value extracted to date.

“This welcome report is the latest in a series of analyses which underline the strength of Scotland’s offshore oil and gas industry for many decades to come,” commented Aberdeen Donside MSP Brian Adam.

“Westminster governments and anti-independence parties have been saying that the oil and gas is running out since the early years of production in the 1970s – and the reality now is that more than half of the revenues are still to come,” he added.

A third of the oil and gas fields are over 30 years old but there are a number of fields set to be exploited, including the BP’s £4.5bn investment in the Clair Ridge field 75km west of Shetland, which is estimated to create access to 640m barrels of oil.

A Scottish Enterprise report anticipated that 86 new North Sea oil and gas fields will begin development by 2016, with investment of £44bn.

However, Professor Alex Kemp, who undertook the research, says that production has fallen over the last few years due to unplanned shutdowns at aging fields.

There is an opportunity for supply chains with “more inspection and maintenance needed” to increase production, according to Professor Alex Kemp.

In the report, called Prospects for Activity in the UK Continental Shelf after Recent Tax Changes: the 2012 Perspective, Professor Alex Kemp recommends a number of technologies to exploit the oil reserves more efficiently.

“If the sector wants to maximize investment it needs more advanced oil recovery,” he said.

UK operations in the North Sea currently extracts around 50% of the oil with the rest getting stuck to rock and other surfaces, Professor Kemp pinpoints polymer and CO2 injections as two technologies that will improve flow and push out more oil.

Extraction in Norway currently averages about 50% and it has plans to raise this to around 60%.