UK identifies 33 North Sea projects with 1.3 billion barrels of oil and gas in total

Regulator says it will bolster Britain's energy security

The North Sea Transition Authority says projects with 890 million barrels could be approved as early as next year. AFP
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The UK's energy regulator has identified 33 new North Sea projects with a potential output of 1.3 million barrels of oil and gas.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), which is responsible for licensing and regulating the exploration and development of the UK's energy, said the initiatives will bolster the nation's energy security.

During its annual performance review of the nation's performance, it said 890 million barrels identified in the projects could be approved as early as next year.

It said exploration and appraisal activity is expected to return to pre-coronavirus levels, with 20 wells per year forecast from 2022 to 2024.

“The appetite for exploration remains, and bodes well for NSTA plans to hold a new licensing round later this year,” it said.

The meeting gathers the managing directors of the sector’s 22 largest operators to review the performance of the basin.

Dr Andy Samuel, NSTA chief executive, said the new projects identified will “strengthen” energy security.

“This meeting once again provided a good platform for positive action, supported by our suite of benchmarks and data insights,” he said.

“I am encouraged by the open, frank and productive dialogue. Many best practices and learnings were shared across the different operators.

“Companies are now progressing new projects that will strengthen energy security, while generating tax revenues, and creating and safeguarding thousands of UK jobs as part of an orderly transition to net zero.

“Importantly the industry reconfirmed commitment to halve production emissions by 2030 with progress well under way. The growing momentum on clean power to offshore installations, carbon capture storage and hydrogen was also very evident.”

It was also revealed that carbon dioxide emissions for the UK oil and gas industry fell by 14 per cent last year.

The has NSTA challenged industry chiefs to sustain these lower levels in 2022, when gas production is expected to rise.

The meeting was told that 80 per cent of operators have forward plans covering asset upgrades, emissions reduction and platform electrification, which will be crucial to meeting, and exceeding, targets.

“The sector already has well-developed proposals for electrification projects and a number of operators are involved in government-backed industrial decarbonisation clusters focused on carbon capture and storage [CCS] and hydrogen, currently being progressed,” it said.

“One of the areas highlighted in last year’s meeting was the need for a step change in well decommissioning and highly positive signs are now evident, with campaign contracting models gaining traction and the NSTA Energy Pathfinder portal listing 470 wells awaiting decommissioning.

“The discussion this year also covered excellent opportunities to repurpose infrastructure for decarbonisation projects, such as CCS and H2, which are now a key area of focus. The NSTA will be launching a carbon storage licensing round shortly.”

The North Sea Transition Deal commits industry to reduce emissions from production operations by at least 50 per cent by 2030, against a 2018 baseline, on the path to net zero by 2050.

Updated: May 03, 2022, 3:10 AM