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Report finds UK petroleum reserves could last another two decades

A new report from the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) has estimated the UK’s proven and probable oil and gas reserves at 5.7bn barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), which the report claims should be sufficient to sustain UK production for another two decades at least.

The report also estimates the UK’s overall recoverable reserves at between 10bn to 20bn BOE, although it points out that this will depend on exploiting the estimated 7.4bn BOE of discovered but underdeveloped resources. The report highlights that developing contingent resources, which are deemed to be too immature for commercial development, will require considerable investment, but they could offer a:

“…significant opportunity for the continued development of the UK’s petroleum resources.”

In addition, the report points to yet-to-be discovered resources that could range from 1.9 billion BOE to 9.2bn BOE.

While the report is more upbeat than recent academic research from Edinburgh University that concluded that UK North Sea production was entering its final decade, the OGA acknowledges it will require additional support by saying:

“Future success of the basin requires attracting additional investment, implementing technology and company collaboration on new and existing developments.”

In addition to supplying industrial lubricants to Mobil UK distributors, oil majors like ExxonMobil have developed new technologies that may be useful for discovering and developing the country’s remaining oil and gas reserves, such as directional and extended-reach drilling. The currently modest oil price, however, may discourage such investment – at least until the oil market turns a corner.

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