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New study claims North Sea oil production is entering its final decade

Academic research from Edinburgh University has concluded that the UK’s oil industry is now entering its last decade of production. Of the UK’s original recoverable oil and gas reserves, the study estimates that only 10% is still available.

Prior to Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum, there had been claims that the country was moving towards a new oil boom. The N56 pressure group, for example, had claimed Scotland could expect:

“…an oil bonanza that heralds a new golden age for the North Sea lasting for another century.”

This view has been challenged by the leader of the new study, Professor Roy Thompson, who points to a lack of any geotechnical evidence to back up N56’s claims. Rather than relying on the dwindling oil and gas reserves or resorting to fracking, Professor Thompson suggests an urgent need to shift to a cleaner economy. He said:

“There needs to be greater emphasis on renewables, energy storage and improved insulation and energy efficiencies.”

The study also concluded that fracking would be only marginally economically feasible in the UK due to a lack of geologically suitable sites, especially in Scotland.

Oil majors such as Shell and ExxonMobil, whose industrial lubricants can be bought through Mobil UK stockists, retain a strong upstream presence in the North Sea. Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden, however, recently said the North Sea needs to “earn its right to grow”in the current economic conditions. Relatively high production costs in the North Sea meant it was particularly affected by the oil price crash.

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