Green groundswell as production peaks

This year should see North Sea oil production reach a new peak, and the first production from west of Shetland as BP’s Foinaven field comes on stream.

More trading of small and mature North Sea assets is likely as operators continue to focus on core projects. The drive to reduce the cost of operations will continue, with further application of multilateral wells and coiled-tube technology on the drilling front and wider co-operation elsewhere.

The issue of abandoning North Sea platforms will also preoccupy the industry in the coming year. Ministers of the signatories of the Oslo and Paris (Ospar) conventions on use of the sea will meet in June where they are supposed to make a final decision on a proposal that all disused structures should be brought ashore.

UK offshore operators will be fighting for a more flexible case-by-case approach. The UK and Norway could refuse to sign the final proposal, and the European Commission has indicated it could then intervene.

The industry will also be concerned with fighting to maintain its exclusion from the EU Working Time Directive, which would severely disrupt offshore working practices and wage costs.

Safety will take up much management time now the Health & Safety Executive has revised the regulations following Lord Cullen’s inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster.

Andrew Cavenagh