The Strategist

Will Great Britain become a net oil exporter?

02/28/2018 - 11:37

British oil companies intend to launch several new projects in the North Sea. This will give the UK a chance to regain the title of a net oil exporter in the near future. Given that the United States is constantly increasing production, the plans of the British are bad news for Russia and OPEC, which are trying to balance the market with agreements.

Iker Merodio via flickr
Iker Merodio via flickr
According to a study by JBC Energy GmbH, the production of crude oil by British companies may exceed 1 million barrels per day due to the launch of several new projects in the North Sea this year.

"There is a clear potential for the UK to return to being a net exporter," Bloomberg concludes.

However, it is not yet clear when exactly this can happen. On the positive side, analysts set up plans for the oil industry. At the end of December, an independent company, Premier Oil, launched production at the new Catcher oil field in the North Sea. The initial set production at Catcher is 10 thousand bpd, by mid-2018 it is planned to increase the volume to 60 thousand bpd.

Last year, oil and gas giant BP Plc began developing a joint project with Shell and Siccar Point Energy project Quad 204, the capacity of which is estimated at 130,000 barrels of oil per day.

Another industry leader, Shell, said in January that it had made an investment decision on the development of the Penguins oil and gas field in the North Sea. In particular, they are planning to drill eight new production wells. The maximum production level will be approximately 45 thousand barrels of o.e. a day.

If all plans are implemented, then the UK can become the second country that will take advantage of the OPEC + deal to take a share of the world market. Recall that under this agreement, members of the cartel, Russia and other oil-producing states are trying to balance the market and reduce oil production by 1.8 million bpd.

The United States used the first fruits of foreign oil consensus. At the end of last year they began to increase production. According to the forecast of the Energy Information Administration of the US Energy Ministry (IEA), US oil production will grow by 1.26 million barrels per day in 2018 and will reach 10.59 million bpd.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, US companies can reach the level of production at 11.4 million bpd, which is higher than Russia (10.9 million bpd in January this year) and Saudi Arabia (about 10 million bpd).

The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, stressed that "the growth rates of shale oil production in the US are very high." "Very soon, the United States will become the number one oil-producing country," he said.

However, the United States will not be able to become a net exporter in the foreseeable future: the daily volume of oil consumption exceeds 20 million barrels, which is approximately twice the level of own production.

The situation in Britain is different. According to Bloomberg, the last time the country was a net oil exporter was in 2004. Later, it turned into an importer of oil, because, according to BP, production volumes from 2000 to 2014 were steadily declining.

Now the daily oil consumption in the country is about 1.5 million barrels, while in 2017 the United Kingdom produced an average of 914 thousand barrels of crude oil.

Due to new projects in the North Sea, the country can become a net exporter of oil with production of more than 1 million barrels of oil per day. But the problem for London lies in the fact that the oil reserves in the North Sea are largely depleted, so the production growth is unstable.

It should also be borne in mind that offshore fields tend to deplete faster than traditional fields on land. Even possible significant discoveries of new reserves will not allow a significant increase in production, since it will be necessary to compensate for the rate of decline.

However, even if Britain succeeds in an oil spurt, it will not have much influence on the alignment of forces in the market. Now, oil production in the world as a whole is about 95-100 million bpd, that is, the share of the UK will be about 1%.