North Sea oil and gas exploration is at a “crossroads”, according to a report on the industry.
Deloitte’s Petroleum Services Group found the number of fields starting to produce in the UK hit its highest level for five years, with a 44% increase in 2013 compared with the previous year. But it also found a 28% drop in exploration and appraisal drilling.
The firm’s energy partner, Graham Hollis, said: “The rise in field start-ups over the last year and increased interest in licensing rounds are positive indicators for the future of the North Sea. However, companies appear to be at a crossroads in their attitude towards it, with optimism and pessimism seemingly present in equal measure. We have recently seen a number of announcements of significant levels of investment in the UK continental shelf.
“However, a number of other companies are taking steps that seem to indicate that the North Sea is no longer a core focus for investment. Any longer-term decline in exploration and appraisal drilling will be of concern and there are measures that seriously need to be considered by industry and government to ensure the longevity of the UK continental shelf.”