British Industry and Government Encourage New Development in UKCS

More than 400 delegates attending Oil & Gas UK's spring breakfast briefing sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland in Aberdeen heard about the initiatives being pursued by both the UK industry and Government to encourage the entrance of new companies onto the UK continental shelf (UKCS) and maximize the recovery of the nation's oil and gas.

Paul Dymond, Oil & Gas UK's operations director, said: "Oil and gas production on the UKCS over the last forty years has already reached 37 billion barrels and an estimated 25 billion barrels still remain to be extracted. This more mature phase of the basin's life offers exciting opportunities for new companies with different business perspectives and the enthusiasm needed to tackle the challenges of maximizing the economic recovery of oil and gas from the UKCS."

Simon Toole, BERR's director of licensing, exploration and development, explored the success of government initiatives such as the allocation of promote licenses to encourage the entry of new, smaller companies to the UKCS and the fallow field initiative to promote activity on existing licenses. Mr Toole also indicated how the forthcoming expiry of first-round licenses, which were allocated in 1964, would be addressed in the coming months.

Steve Daines, a senior director of Maersk Oil, a new production operator on the UKCS, explained the considerations his company made in entering the basin and the challenges that will need to be overcome in future. He commented: "Maersk Oil continues to be encouraged by the results from the ongoing exploration and appraisal programs being undertaken by its team in Aberdeen. In seeking new, profitable areas for its oil and gas business, Maersk Oil has found a platform for growth that it looks forward to developing into the future."

Steve Horton of Silverstone Energy explained what is required for a small exploration company to pursue drilling programs on the UKCS, saying: "The UKCS continues to offer attractive opportunities for small, well-run, well-funded exploration and production companies, prepared and able to execute."

Delegates at the briefing also heard about another area of collaborative work to encourage new companies to the UKCS - improving the regulatory framework around data management and ensuring the tools are in place to encourage the sharing of data collected from seismic and exploration activity. Effective sharing of data helps new companies avoid duplicating activity and reduces the cost of exploration.

Participation in the Well DataStore, the digital collection of UKCS well data managed by Oil & Gas UK subsidiary Common Data Access (CDA), is at an all-time high and it is proposed that CDA broadens the service it offers with the launch of an initiative for seismic data later this year.

Malcolm Fleming, CDA's chief executive, said: "The sharing of data within the oil and gas industry improves the efficiency of exploration and encourages new companies to pursue the UK's oil and gas reserves with benefits for the industry, government and nation as a whole."