We're two-thirds through the North Sea oil and gas story. Over the past four decades, 698 offshore fields have been discovered in the UK Continental Shelf, producing 41bn barrels of oil and gas to date Daily Telegraph.
The North Sea story continues
The North Sea is expected to continue providing oil and gas for another 30 to 40 years; there are as many as 20bn barrels of oil still buried underneath the sea bed UK Government.
Government agencies are keen to maximise the development of the remaining reserves through cooperation with energy companies and approval of offshore projects. Low cost operators have moved in, with new technologies designed to open up fresh prospects for more challenging fields.
Meanwhile nearly £17bn is forecast to be spent on scrapping 79 North Sea platforms and plugging 1,200 wells over the next 10 years, according to a survey by Oil & Gas UK Oil and Gas UK. Tax relief on the cost of decommissioning equipment will encourage the maximum recovery in the long term.
The role of renewables
Renewables will also have a crucial role to play in the UK energy mix in the decades beyond, making the most of the country's abundant natural resources.
The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, provides the world's only purpose-built, open sea test facilities for wave and tidal energy converters. At least 80 different types of devices are in development.
Testing in Scotland today for these developers could mean full scale commercialisation across global markets. A sign of the potential size of the opportunity is the investment by major energy producers such as Andritz Hydro (Austria), Kawasaki (Japan) and E.ON (Germany).
The UK is committed to sourcing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 UK Government. Improving the transmission of low-carbon power from suppliers to consumers plays an important role in achieving that target.
Renewables will also have a crucial role to play in the UK energy mix in the decades beyond, making the most of the country’s abundant natural resources.
Among the innovations underway in the UK are SmartGrid, an intelligent electrical network with two-way flow making the system more reliable and efficient. Such a grid will help manage the intermittent supply from renewables and help integrate home-grown energy supplies.
A smart grid needs smart metering, and 50 million households will need to have smart meters installed by their energy company between 2015 and 2020 UK Government Smart Metering Implementation Programme. It will cost about £7bn to install some 26 million smart electricity meters, along with around 22 million smart gas meters. Meeting this goal presents a significant investment opportunity for commercial installation companies.
The UK has an enviable reputation for scanning the horizon; researching or developing new techniques that add resilience and efficiency to the infrastructure is what our globally-renowned research centres are all about.
- The North Sea should continue to provide oil and gas for another 30-40 years but some field will be more challenging to access
- Renewables will have a crucial role to play in the UK's energy mix
- The UK boasts some globally-renowned energy research centres