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Oil industry in the UK - statistics & facts

The United Kingdom is among only a handful of countries in Europe extracting and producing crude oil on a large scale. The majority of proved oil reserves in the UK are held offshore within the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. Following the beginning of offshore oil extraction in the North Sea in 1975 and with rapidly increasing production figures, it is not surprising that known oil basins have been slowly depleted. Between 1995 and 2020, proved reserves nearly halved. This was not just the result of less exploration activity, but also a push by the government to find and support alternative fuels in an effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

Production hit in the early 2010s & impact on Brent prices

Although oil production in the United Kingdom has increased from a low seen in the mid-2010s, production output has generally declined within the past two decades. In the years between 2012 and 2015, figures fell below one million barrels per day as UK producers were left behind their U.S. competitors using unconventional methods such as horizontal drilling and fracking, flooding the market with cheap crude. Those years saw the average annual Brent crude oil price fall by over 50 U.S. dollars. Brent is the benchmark used for oil produced in the North Sea and one of the most referenced oil prices in the world.

As of March 2021, there were 50 UK enterprises in the extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas sector, with an annual turnover exceeding five million British pounds. The total number of businesses was 150.

Trading in the year of the pandemic

In terms of UK trade in oil by trade value, the trade balance was negative in four of the first six months of 2021 and reached a low of minus 865 million British pounds in June of that year. One year prior when the coronavirus pandemic forced the country into lockdown, oil exports exceeded imports, resulting in a positive trade balance for most of the year. Meanwhile, the average petrol, diesel, and other motor oils expenditure by UK households decreased to 22.3 British pounds. The Netherlands, which houses major refineries for BP and Shell, is by far the greatest export destination for UK sourced crude oil.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 23 most important statistics relating to "Oil industry in the UK ".


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