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Regulator says new measures could boost North Sea oil production

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The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), which regulates oil and gas production in the UK North Sea, has published a report outlining how oil and gas production in the North Sea could be boosted relatively quickly.

Overall production in the North Sea has been low compared to pre-pandemic times. In 2019, total production stood at 600 million barrels, but this dropped to 480 million barrels last year. There was also a corresponding decrease in drilling activity, with it down from 141 wells in 2019 to 66 last year.

Carlo Procaccini, the Head of Technology at NSTA, said that it was important to ensure greater supply of oil and gas from the North Sea in the cleanest possible way. This could be achieved, he said, by restoring repairable wells in addition to drilling fresh wells, adding:
“The NSTA is working with industry on a number of fronts to support this work. Part of that involves sharing data, such as those presented in this report, and benchmarking to keep industry better informed on wells performance and priority areas.”

The report highlights how around half of last year’s drilled wells took advantage of opportunities near existing infrastructure, with a discovery last year being brought online by early 2022. The Jackdaw project of oil and lubricant company Shell follows this model. The NSTA also wants to see more production reactivated through well interventions, which it says should be attractive to operators because it can cost as little as £5–10 per barrel.

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