Looking ahead ///

UK could be substantial importer, yet 50% more production also possible. A report by Houston-based Simmons & Co. International, an oil research firm, states that North Sea production peaked in 1999 at 2.7 million bopd. It also predicts that declining output of 6% in 2000 and 7% last year will continue. The area-fields’ average depletion rate is 11.4%. To offset this decline and keep production steady will require UK operators to add almost 300,000 bopd to current production levels. Simmons projects that this year will be the exception to the UK’s fairly constant production decline because an extra 150,000 bopd could come onstream from the Elgin-Franklin and Leadon fields. A joint, government-industry group study, carried out by Aberdeen University, reports that the North Sea is capable of adding more than 50% additional output to reserves with 6.3 billion boe that are economically extractable from these fields. The study further confirms an earlier report by Wood Mackenzie that estimates UK reserves in current producing fields at about 11 billion boe.

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