UK projects up to 20 billion barrels of oil remain to be found offshore

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has published the UK Oil and Gas Reserves and Resources as at end 2019. It provides an estimate of the UK Continental Shelf’s remaining recoverable petroleum resources. The report estimates that there remains in the range 10 to 20 billion barrels or more of oil equivalent, including discovered and undiscovered petroleum resources.

Official government forecasts suggest that oil and gas will remain an important and critical part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future, as we transition to net zero.

Managing the basin’s declining production to maximize value from the UKCS is still vital to meet our energy demands as long as they exist, as well as reducing reliance on imports and their associated carbon footprint. The OGA believes that maximizing the economic recovery of the UK’s remaining oil and gas need not be in conflict with the energy transition and that the industry has the skills, technology and capital to help unlock the solutions required to help the UK achieve net zero.

The report finds:

  • The UK’s petroleum reserves remain at a significant level. The OGA’s estimate for proven and probable (2P) UK reserves as at end 2019 is 5.2 billion boe, slightly lower than as at end 2018 despite reserve additions. On the basis of current production projections, this could sustain production from the UKCS for another 20 years or more.
  • In 2019, 270 million boe (mmboe) were added to 2P reserves and about 600 mmboe were produced which equates to a reserve replacement ratio of 45%. Less than 100 mmboe were matured by the granting of consent to 6 new field developments, lower than 100 mmboe as a result of consent to 7 field development plan addenda, and about 110 mmboe as a result of other infield activities, improved field performance and field-life extensions. The replacement rate of proven and probable reserves by resource maturation from new field developments has been limited.
  • The UK’s contingent resource level is significant with a central estimate of discovered undeveloped resources of 7.4 billion boe. Much of this resource is in mature developed areas and under consideration for development. The maturation of contingent resources presents a significant opportunity for the continued development of the UK’s petroleum resources. This will require substantial investment in both new field developments and incremental projects.
  • In aggregate, UKCS petroleum reserves and discovered resources are both approximately 70% oil and 30% gas, when expressed in oil equivalent terms.
  • Exploration success in 2019 delivered an addition of 240 million boe to the total of contingent resources
  • The mean prospective resources in mapped leads and prospects are estimated as 4.1 billion boe. This is supplemented by an additional mean prospective resource of 11.2 billion boe estimated to reside in plays outside of mapped leads and prospects. These estimates when expressed in boe terms are unchanged since the end 2018 estimates.

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