Assessing the future of North Sea oil and gas

Oil output in the North Sea was in decline for a decade until 2015, when the trend began to reverse (source: macpixxel for GIS)
Oil output in the North Sea was in decline for a decade until 2015, when the trend began to reverse (source: macpixxel for GIS)

The North Sea is a mature oil and gas province. Output from the two main producers – Norway and the United Kingdom – has peaked and the remaining reserves to be exploited are smaller and/or more technically challenging than those developed in the past, thereby shrinking potential returns. As several fields approach the end of their commercial lives, the decommissioning of offshore platforms and the accompanying bills are looming on a scale not seen before anywhere in the world.

The fall in oil prices since 2014 has exacerbated concerns about the future of North Sea production. Its demise has been predicted on several occasions before, including during the last decade, when the area w...

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