UK’s North Sea oil output to resume inexorable slide in 2019

The UK section of the North Sea will fall back into declining oil production when a four-year growth spell comes to an end next year, according to consultancy firm Bernstein.

Production from the maturing oil basin had been on a steady, two-decade decline prior to 2014, when the region was boosted by the start-up of several new fields, including BP’s Quad 204 and Enquest’s Kraken field.

Improving downstream methods such as infill drilling also helped stabilise oil output from existing fields. The result was improving decline rates in the North Sea, which went from around 18% in 2012 to 8% in 2016 and 5% in 2017.

In fact, production from the world’s first deepwater basin is expected to grow by 4% (roughly 40,000 bpd) in 2018, however this growth will be short-lived before decline sits in again from 2019 to 2021.

“The stability and even growth from 2015 to 2018 will prove temporary in nature for this 1 million barrels per day (bpd) basin,” concluded the Bernstein report.

Production in the North Sea, home to the Brent global crude benchmark, peaked in 1999 at 2.6 million bpd but slipped to lows of 800,000 bpd in 2014.