UK oil and gas production update to October 2013

  • UK oil + natural gas liquid production was 3.789 million tonnes in December 2013, down 3.9% on December 2012.
  • UK net gas production stood at 32611 GWh in December 2013, down 0.7% on December 2012.
  • The annualised declines (12 month mean) for oil and gas both stand at around 7% per annum, much improved from the high teen values seen in recent years, but production is still falling.
  • The improved oil and gas production statistics are positively impacted by the start up of the Jasmine HPHT gas condensate field in November 2013.

Figure 1 UK monthly crude oil + natural gas liquids production January 1995 to December 2013. Whilst the decline is slowing, the direction is still down. The annual cycles reflect planned maintenance shut downs that always take place during the summer months. 


The data presented here come from a spread sheet provided to me by DECC where data have been extracted from “Energy Trends” Tables 3.10 and 4.2 (plus published JODI submissions for latest month). None of the production units are very user friendly and I have simply reported the numbers used by DECC in interest of getting data that is up to date (December 2013).

Figure 2 UK crude oil + NGL monthly production decline rates where months are compared with the equivalent month in the preceding year (YOY = year on year). The reversals of decline rates in 2001 and 2007 are due to the Elgin and Buzzard Fields coming on stream. Large new fields put a shoulder on the production curve. In the future, large new fields will have proportionally a larger impact than in the past since actual production is now much lower.

Figure 3 UK net gas production (gross production less producers own use) to December 2013. The annual cycle historically reflects production being ramped up and down to match seasonal demand. Since the UK now imports gas the year round, the cycles now reflect mainly planned maintenance shut downs. The unconventional units are those used by DECC in their most up to date reports.

Figure 4 Monthly and annualised declines for total gas production. Annualised decline has now slowed to 6.5% from the shocking >20% figure of two years ago. The improvement is most likely due to Jasmine, production is still falling, just more slowly.

Concluding comments

The UK oil and gas industry has in recent years been making record investments (Figure 5). Some of this is in large new field developments that have yet to feed through to production. And some is on field refurbishment which may actually temporarily reduce production while engineering works are on going. However, the industry and government must be concerned that all this investment to date has merely slowed declines to historic trend levels.

Figure 5 Field development capital, exploration and appraisal and operating costs for the UK continental shelf, historic and projected (UK Department of Energy and Climate Change – DECC). First published in what is currently Energy Matters’ most read post: UK North Sea Oil Production Decline

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5 Responses to UK oil and gas production update to October 2013

  1. Hi Euan,

    Great summary. Tough when costs are rising and production is falling.

    Coal production has been hit harder, off 22%.

    Three longwalls left now. Hatfield may be the next to go. They are averaging only 1,600 tonnes per miner per year. “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.”


  2. Ralph W says:

    If I recall correctly, deep water developments ramp up quickly and then almost immediately enter declining production. This is presumably to minimise the duration that the offshore platforms need to be operational, due to the very high operating costs. (I also seem to recall a move to more automated sea bed operations, not requiring surface platforms..)

    So in all probability this reduced decline rate will not be sustained, but will rise again as decline sets in for this new field.

    What over new fields or major workovers are in the development phase, and what are their expected flows?

  3. Stuart says:

    North Sea Decline??

    It seems that everyone is in agreement beyond any doubt, that the North Sea is in decline in every possible measureable way.

    But let’s see how you feel after reading these 3 charts.

    Here is a chart of UK oil and gas production showing the familiar story of decline (the chart also includes oil and gas prices).

    Here is a not so familiar chart showing the daily revenue of the UKCS (daily production multiplied by price)

    Here is a chart you have never seen, showing UK oil revenue plus UK gas revenue.

    Well that’s a funny looking decline!

    OK, but we should also adjust this chart for inflation, so we can compare past and present in terms of what the money can buy.

    And finally for anyone interested lets convert the chart from USD to GBP to see what the money can buy here in the UK.

    Interesting stuff. So if we do something crazy like consider the size of the industry in terms of gross revenue (what sensible industry would do that?!), the picture looks very different. 25 years of continued growth.
    People forget that this is a business like any other. What would Ford do if they could make the same money and build just 1/3rd of the cars they make?

    Less oil, more money.

    Let me put another spin on this… We used to have to lift 2.5m barrels a day to make this much money, today we only have to lift 800,000 we’re more efficient than ever, and we’re improving all the time.

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