The UK North Sea has another 20 or more years of production ahead based on the current reserves estimates. This could further improve if more discoveries were made and if those made were to be developed.
The UK Oil and Gas authority on Wednesday said the UKCS proven and probable (2P) petroleum reserves were 5.4 billion of oil equivalent at the end of 2017, a level the OGA says is ‘significant,’ and the level that should keep the UK producing for at least two more decades.
While 5.4 of proven and probable reserves is a significant number in itself, the OGA estimate for remaining UK recoverable petroleum resources is in the range 10 to 20 billion boe, including discovered and undiscovered petroleum resources.
“This range can be justified by field life being extended due to lower opex and higher oil price, additional producing field incremental projects, actively worked undeveloped discoveries being unlocked by technology, and innovative commercial and supply chain arrangements, and a robust prospect & lead inventory with significant upside potential derived from statistical play fairway analysis,” the OGA said.
Replacement ratio causes concern
OGA says that in 2017, 400 million boe (mmboe) were added to 2P reserves and about 600 mmboe were produced which equates to a reserve replacement ratio of 69%.
“The limited rate of replacement of proven and probable reserves by resource maturation remains the main concern,” OGA said.
Of the 400 mmboe mentioned above 100 mmboe were matured from new field developments, 80 mmboe as a result of infield activities and approximately 220 mmboe of the reserves replacement was due to field-life extensions.
The UKCS contingent resource level is significant with a central estimate (2C) of discovered undeveloped resources of 7.5 billion boe.
“Much of this resource is in mature developed areas and under consideration for development. OGA expects 2.1 billion boe is expected to be added through new field developments coming forward, 2.1 billion from incremental projects in producing fields and 3.2 billion resides in undeveloped discoveries where no development proposals are currently being proposed.
The maturation of contingent resources presents a significant opportunity for the continued development of the UKCS petroleum resources. This will require substantial investment in both new field developments and incremental projects, OGA said.
UKCS petroleum reserves and discovered resources are 70% oil and 30% gas, when expressed in oil equivalent terms. A total of some 44.1 billion boe had been produced to end 2017 from the UKCS.