OEUK: North Sea still supports UK energy security amidst oil, gas production decline

World Oil Staff May 15, 2023

(WO) — Offshore Energies UK has responded to claims by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) that the UK faces sharp rises in gas imports, and import costs, over the next decade, linked to declining production from the UK's North Sea.

Offshore Energies UK, representing companies involved in producing energy from the UK’s continental shelf, said gas and oil production was indeed in long-term decline. However, the North Sea and other UK waters still contained enough gas and oil to support much of the nation’s needs during the three decades it will take to reach net zero.

OEUK’s Business Outlook report, published in March 2023, said the UK produced about 500 MMboe in 2022 – enough to meet 44% of the UK’s gas consumption and 67% of demand for oil and related products. Gas and oil equivalent to another 15 Bbl of oil are estimated to remain in place - enough to support the UK for about three decades at current usage rates.

Mike Tholen, OEUK’s director of sustainability, said, “Last year, UK consumers saw the bill for energy imports more than double, from £54 billion in 2021 to £117 billion in 2022. The Ukraine conflict also threatened Europe with energy shortages – but the UK’s North Sea supplies gave us energy security and the chance to support our European neighbors.

“The UK has 24 million homes heated by gas boilers, gets 42% of its power from gas fired power stations and has 32 million petrol and diesel vehicles. Overall, the UK gets about 76% of its energy just from oil and gas. We need to move to lower carbon energy, but the scale of the change means it will take years. There is no simple choice between oil and gas and renewables – for the foreseeable future we will need both.

“That’s why we need to keep investing in exploring and developing new and existing fields in our own waters. We know that oil and gas production from UK waters will decline – but if we continue to explore responsibly then we can slow that decline right down – helping give the UK the energy security it needs while it builds the low carbon energy systems of the future.”

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