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North Sea oil production market contributed 3.6% to global production in 2011

Industry Sector

Energy and Utilities


27 November 2012


Matt Bodimeade

Type of News


The North Sea oil production market has declined at an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 7.7% since 2006, from 2,599 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) to 1,772 MMboe.

Commercial extraction of oil on the shores of the North Sea dates back to 1851, when James Young retorted oil from torbanite (boghead coal, or oil shale) mined in the Midland Valley of Scotland. Across the sea in Germany, oil was found in the Wietze field near Hanover in 1859, leading to the discovery of 70 more fields, mostly in Lower Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs, producing a combined total of around 1340 m³ (8,400 barrels) per day.

The North Sea region contributes significantly to global production of oil and gas. Though the region's contribution to global oil and gas production has declined over the last few years, it is still a key region for global supplies. In 2011, the region contributed approximately 3.6% to global oil and gas production, which was recorded at around 1,771.6 MMboe.

With North Sea production dropping each year, the UK is employing Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques in an effort to maximise the amount of oil that can be recovered from the area's matured reservoirs.

The UK, the leading North Sea producer in terms of the number of exploration blocks, will fight depleting hydrocarbon returns by introducing the Centre for North Sea Enhanced Oil Recovery, a facility announced in May 2012, wholly dedicated to EOR from the North Sea.

EOR procedures include infusing CO2 gas into oil fields deep below the sea-bed to force out extra amounts of oil and it has been projected that the centre will use this technology to store up to 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from each Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) power plant project, and increase the quantity of oil extracted from reservoirs underneath the waters.

With this new facility in place, the UK could lead the EU with the biggest Carbon Storage Capacity (CSC) in the region and hold a competitive advantage in both manpower and infrastructure.

Norway and the UK are the leading exploration markets in the North Sea region. Norway leads in terms of the number of oil and gas discoveries made since 2008, while the UK dominates in term of the number of active exploration blocks.North Sea oil production

The North Sea region has around 2,418 exploration blocks. The UK alone has around 1,966 exploration blocks in its North Sea region. These blocks are located in the Central North Sea Basin, Mid North Sea High Basin, Northern North Sea Basin, Southern Gas Basin, and the East Shetland and West of Shetlands areas. Norway has 392 exploration blocks located in the North Sea basin.

The declining trend in the North Sea oil production market is expected to continue in the coming years. Production from the region is estimated to decline from 1,702.3 MMboe in 2012 to 1,447.4 MMboe in 2020, at a negative AAGR of 2% during this time.

For more information on the North Sea oil production market, see the latest research: North Sea Oil Production Market

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