It’s May 2014, Scotland goes to the polls in 4 months to vote in a historic referendum for independence. The Yes camp are creeping ahead in some opinion polls and the UK government in Westminster are starting to panic. Enter the BBC who are 100% impartial and not biased… May 16th 2014 and one of the BBC’s leading stories says “In just over five years Britain will have run out of oil, coal and gas.” The source quoted, the Global Sustainability Institute said shortages would increase dependency on Norway, Qatar and Russia and that Britain had just 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and three years of its own gas remaining. (For anyone wondering the Global Sustainability Institute is actually the Anglia Ruskin University).
Even though the Department of Energy & Climate Change said the report was nonsense, the BBC ran with it and started a huge debate on the future of the North Sea and the Scottish oil and gas industry which accounts for the vast majority of the UK’s reserves.
The news article prompted Oil and Gas People to conduct our own study. Our investigation included interviews with industry experts and collated seismic and expert evidence from a range of independent sources such as the British Geological Survey, DECC, oil and gas companies, the Institute of Petroleum Engineering and the Energy Institute. Our study concluded that Scotland was sitting on billions of pounds worth of untapped reserves, highlighting specifically the Atlantic Margin where at the time of the report only 20 test wells had been drilled compared to over 3000 in the North Sea.
Five years on from the scaremongering BBC report, Scotland isn’t independent and surprisingly isn’t running out of oil and gas. In fact, the BBC just recently printed an article with the headline: “UK Oil and Gas Prediction Forecast Raised” which goes on to say: “Forecasts of how much oil and gas could be produced by the UK offshore industry have been revised upwards. The industry regulator now believes 11.9 billion barrels will be extracted by 2050, up from an estimate of eight billion four years ago.”
Only a few weeks ago the UK revealed plans for a joint licensing round to be launched between the Faroe Islands and the UK North Sea. The ‘ground-breaking’ collaboration will see blocks come available for exploration in waters on the UK Atlantic Margin, between west of Shetland and the Faroes. It would see the fifth Faroese Licensing Round take place alongside the UK’s 32nd round, due to begin in June and close in November. The Faroes Oil Industry Group said it will create a “whole new expanded oil province which subsumes and supersedes west of Shetland”.
So no need to panic buy at the fuel station. The UK’s oil and gas industry has a lot of life left yet and look out for oil discoveries in the Atlantic Margin in the future. You heard it here first… in 2014!