Oil veteran calls for renewed focus on North Sea exploration

Graphic shows the new Total-operated gas fields tied-back to the Shetland Gas Plant via the existing Laggan-Tormore subsea infrastructure.

Energy industry veteran Algy Cluff has called for a renewed focus on maximinsing recovery of North Sea oil and gas reserves.

The businessman said the attention of the industry seemed to have drifted in recent years despite the fact the UK Continental Shelf potentially still harboured significant untapped resources.

“There is so much focus now in the UK on heavily subsidised renewables that the North Sea seems to have receded in significance and yet, there remains in the North Sea, not only massive infrastructure, but also the potential for discoveries of new reserves of oil and particularly of gas, of which the UK is badly in need,” Mr Cluff said as Cluff Natural Resources (CNR) provided an interim update to the market.

“Ten years ago, the UK was self-sufficient in gas, whereas now we import over 50% of our requirement from, inter alia, Norway, Qatar, Algeria, Russia and Peru.

“This figure is increasing at an alarming rate and security, as well as commerciality, must dictate that the North Sea is an absolute priority for exploration.”

Unaudited figures for the six months to June 30 show CNR generated a loss of £774,288.

The figure compares to a loss of £662,473 in the same period in 2016.

However, despite the negative return, CNR is looking to increase its North Sea presence.

Mr Cluff said the 30th offshore licensing round presented an “exhilarating challenge” and CNR had already identified blocks of interest that it intended applying for.

The new exploration call came as French giant Total announced first gas production from the Edradour and Glenlivet fields west of Shetland.

The development – in which Total is operator and DONG Energy and Perth-based SSE E&P both have 20% stakes – ties back to the Shetland Gas Plant via the existing Laggan-Tormore infrastructure.

At full capacity, the two plays are expected to produce 56,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

“We have completed this project ahead of schedule and 30% under the initial budget,” Arnaud Breuillac, Total president, exploration and production.

“This development will contribute to our production growth in the North Sea.”

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