The Scottish and UK oil industries are entering their final decade of production, a research cited by a Scottish university has suggested, sparking a quick response from the UK oil industry body, claiming otherwise.
The University of Edinburgh said on Tuesday that a study of output from offshore fields estimated that close to 10 percent of the UK’s original recoverable oil and gas remaind – about 11 percent of oil and nine percent of gas resources.
Also, the analysis found that fracking would be barely economically feasible in the UK, especially in Scotland, because of a lack of sites with suitable geology.
The researchers warned that, if the study’s predictions were correct, the UK would have to import all the oil and gas it needs very soon.
Instead, they recommend a move towards greater use of renewable energy sources, particularly offshore wind and advanced solar energy technologies.
Namely, the study, published in The Edinburgh Geologist by the Edinburgh Geological Society, predicts that both oil and gas reserves will run out within a decade.
The analysis of hydrocarbon reserves shows that discoveries have consistently lagged behind output since the point of peak oil recovery in the late 1990s.
Roy Thompson, School of GeoSciences, said: “The UK urgently needs a bold energy transition plan, instead of trusting to dwindling fossil fuel reserves and possible fracking. We must act now and drive the necessary shift to a clean economy with integration between energy systems. There needs to be greater emphasis on renewables, energy storage and improved insulation and energy efficiencies.”
Fracking not an option
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh examined the UK’s likely potential for fracking and carried out a fresh analysis of the country’s oil and gas production.
The findings take into account the long-term downward trends of oil and gas field size and lifespan, alongside the break-even costs for fracking. The conclusion was that the UK had only minimal potential for fracking due to many possible sites being in densely populated areas with low-quality source rocks.
“Fracking is likely to be too restricted to become an effective industry, which would require thousands of wells,” scientists said.
Oil & Gas UK: Large hydrocarbon developments to push on as far as 2050
In a response to claims made by Edinburgh University’s oil and gas study, Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, said:
“There are up to 20 billion barrels of oil and gas resources still to be recovered on the UK Continental Shelf, based on production forecasts provided by the Oil and Gas Authority.
“Production has increased over the last two years and we expect that to continue to rise. Nine new fields began production in 2016 and a further seven started producing in the first half of this year – most of which will still be producing in 2030. A further 12 are due on-stream by the end of next year. Some notably large developments will still be producing towards 2050.
“To ensure the remaining potential of the UKCS is realised, we need to keep operating costs low, bring in new investment and maintain a relentless focus on exploration and enhanced recovery.
“The UK Government forecasts that two thirds of the UK’s energy will come from oil and gas in 2035. We must maximize recovery of our domestic resources so that we can continue to help to meet the UK’s energy needs and safeguard the 300,000 UK jobs our industry supports.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff