The government has been keen to maximise the country’s oil and gas resources in order to bolster the country’s energy security and boost its coffers through tax revenues on production.
It commissioned a report into the UK North Sea last year, led by oil veteran Sir Ian Wood. The study recommends industry reforms that Wood claims will deliver at least 3-4bn barrels of oil more than would otherwise be recovered, worth £200bn to the economy over the next 20 years.
“These figures show there is a still of lot of potential remaining in domestic energy reserves,” said the department for Energy and Climate Change in a statement.
“They also further underline the importance of greater collaboration and efficiency in the industry as described in Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations.
“It’s for that reason that the government has fast tracked the recommendations of the Wood Review to maximise the potential of the North Sea and make sure the whole of the UK benefits.”
The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) has already produced 41bn barrels of oil and gas.
The government estimates that the UK’s oil and gas reserves could range from 11.1bn to 21bn barrels of oil. A spokesperson told City A.M. that the wide range was because the figures have to take into account fields that were already in production, undeveloped discoveries and undiscovered reserves that they think were in the North Sea.
The published estimates did not include any estimates for shale gas reserves as exploration for shale gas was still at a very early stage in the UK, the government said.