Industry remains buoyant in North Sea ///

With global escalation in oil prices and costs, increased speculation and tighter margins coupled with the looming economic downturn, one would expect a level of caution and potential stagnation in the industry. However, the oil and gas industry in the North Sea remains buoyant. Interest at the licensing stage has never been higher, with record levels reported. Exploration and appraisal drilling continues to rise, with independents taking the lead at the wellhead while developing their portfolios through asset trade and farm-in activity. OIL AND GAS PRICES After fluctuating below an imaginary US$40/bbl ceiling for 20 years until mid-2004, the oil price began creeping upward amid speculation of a lack of US refining capacity, instability in key producing regions and a sustained demand for light products in developing economies. At that time, rumors of US$100 oil and above were still frowned upon, and an upward curve turned away from US$80 in late 2006.

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