North Sea oil drilling is drying up

Suzie Neuwirth
EXPLORATION and appraisal drilling in the UK North Sea fell by 28 per cent last year, a report out today showed, reigniting calls for more state support.

Only 47 exploration and appraisal wells were drilled in 2013, compared with 65 in 2012, said the research by Deloitte. During the same period, the Norwegian Continental Shelf saw a 41 per cent increase in drilling activity.

The findings come ahead of next month’s report from Sir Ian Wood on how to maximise North Sea output.

“We are not drilling enough wells in UK offshore waters and those that we are drilling we are not finding enough oil and gas,” said Oil & Gas UK, which repeated its call for action from the Treasury and department for energy.

“The UK government is doing all it can to ensure the North Sea’s full potential is realised,” said a government spokesperson.

“We think that around 20 billion barrels of oil could still be extracted.

“The UK’s tax regime has helped support record levels of investment in the North Sea and we are working closely with industry to promote further exploration and development.”