Securing the UK's oil and gas supply is vital to ensuring the energy supply of the region. Oil and gas provided approximately 75 percent of the energy consumed in the UK during 2016, and is anticipated to provide the majority of the UK's energy well in to the future.
Oil production in the UK is largely focused on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) in the North Sea region. In 2015, 53 percent of the UK's oil supply was imported, with the remainder of the supply coming from North Sea production. As proved oil reserves decline and production levels decrease, the UK is expected to become increasingly dependent on imported oil from 2019 to 2035. How closely production and demand forecasts match actual results depends on the price of oil, which has been volatile in recent years.
The production and supply side of gas is facing a similar scenario. The demand for gas is expected to outstrip production levels by 49 million metric tons in 2035, resulting in an import dependency rate of 78 percent, compared with the 48 percent predicted in 2018.
Aside from lower production levels and falling prices, another major issue facing the industry is the decommissioning of hundreds of oil wells. From 2016 to 2025, a total of 153 projects involving 1,470 wells are expected to be decommissioned, presenting a significant engineering, logistical and economic challenge.
The Brent Decommissioning Project, for example, is a project worth billions of British pounds that has been in planning since 2006, and involves the decommissioning of four wells; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. In the case of Brent Delta, removing the topside required the use of a 2.4 billion British pound ship to move the 24,000 metric ton topside, the heaviest lift performed to date.
From 2016 to 2025, a total of 894,480 metric tons of material is expected to be removed from the North Sea/UKCS region in connection with decommissioning works.