New Market Report: United Kingdom Oil & Gas Report Q4 2013

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Wed Oct 09 2013

An uptick investment offshore is providing some relief from the overall downward trend in oil and gas production from the UK. However, without new discoveries, the recent boost to output is only likely to stem rather than reverse the decline given falling volumes from mature fields. While the industry has responded positively to the end of a moratorium on shale gas development, as well as incentives, strong opposition at the local level has already disrupted drilling plans. These challenges only reinforce our view that shale gas is unlikely to make a significant contribution to total gas output within our 10-year forecast period to 2022.

The main trends and developments we highlight in the UK oil and gas sector are:

* Both oil and gas production continued to fall in 2012. Oil output fell to 1.01mn barrels per day (b/d) - the UK's lowest recorded level since the 1970s. Gas production fell some 6.38% to 40.53bn cubic metres (bcm).
* The start of new upstream projects in 2014 should lend some support to oil and gas production over the near term. However, at present new volumes are only likely to slow rather than reverse the downward trend in output given the rate of decline from mature fields. While the response from the industry to government tax breaks has been promising, with new investment in both greenfield and brownfield projects, new discoveries would be necessary to more dramatically alter the outlook for UK oil and gas.
* Technical glitches in mature but critical projects such as the Cormorant Alpha platform and the Brent pipeline system are expected to hit output further in 2013 and alongside natural decline, will see the UK's oil output dip below 1mn b/d to 906,990b/d in 2013.
* Although the long-term output trend is a downward one, we forecast that fiscal incentives will see a gentler fall in production as drilling activity picks up. Indeed, industry data indicated that a new record amount of investment, more than GBP20bn (US$30bn) was to be directed toward the North Sea. However, this uptick in investment was due to slow from 2015 onwards. By 2017, we expect output to average at 785,930b/d. By 2022, output could be as low as 715,690b/d based on current rates and volumes of oil discoveries.
* The UK's oil consumption is set to continue on a downward trend, from 1.52mn b/d in 2012 to 1.40mn b/ d in 2017 and 1.30mn b/d by 2022. This is a result of weak economic growth and greater fuel efficiency. It means that the UK will have a smaller domestic market that could further dampen the economics of downstream production. However, this could help alleviate the UK's long-term current account position if it helps contain the country's oil import needs.

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