Britain’s oil production could drop by more than 50% five years into the next century, according to a report published yesterday by analyst Wood Mackenzie.
The pessimistic scenario is based on the firm’s latest annual analysis of probable near term developments.
The 47 fields identified this year are estimated to hold 2.12 billion barrels of oil equivalent compared with 3.14 billion for the 50 fields in the 1996 analysis – a fall of 32%. The expected capital spending has dropped from £7.2bn to £5bn.
While the near-term developments should help UK production (including natural gas liquids and condensates) to exceed 3 million barrels a day in 1998, 1999 and 2000, they will not compensate for the decline in production from the large mature North Sea oil fields after 2000.
Unless oil companies can replace these losses from big new discoveries west of Shetland, Wood Mackenzie warns that output could fall back to 1.5 million barrels a day by 2005.
In another report out yesterday, Aberdeen City Council estimates that numbers employed by the offshore industry in north-east Scotland would decline by up to 11,000 from the present level of 45,000 over 14 years.