UK and North Sea oil output expected to rise again

Jan 12, 1998 01:00 AM

British oil production levels will jump by 8 % to a record 2.84 mm bpd in 1998 after remaining disappointingly flat in 1997, according to consultants Wood Mackenzie.
Total North Sea production levels, including output from Norway, the world's second largest crude oil exporter, will also rise by 8 % to a new high of 6.57 mm bpd from 1997's average of 6.08 mm bpd, they said.
Some 22 new oil fields due on stream in waters off the British Isles in the next 12 months should power an impressive rise in crude flows from 1997's average of 2.53 mm bpd.
The production levels are expected to reach 3 mm bpd by the end of the year, including an onshore contribution of some 100,000 bpd, the 12-month average could be as high as 2.93 mm bpd.
But Wood Mackenzie said it would stick with a more "cautious" forecast, given that technical problems which had delayed many new start-ups for months in 1997 could repeat themselves.
The predicted rise in output for 1997 evaporated as the floating production systems now favoured by oil companies suffered teething problems and ambitious development schedules proved too hasty.
Last year's output figures were actually below 1996's 2.57 mm bpd, pushed down by delays and heavy summer maintenance schedules that cut June's output to a two-year low of 2.1 mm bpd.
With major maintenance work often done on a biennial basis summer platform shutdowns in 1998 should have only a limited effect, although work planned on the Forties system in June will reduce second quarter output significantly, Wood Mac said.
Norwegian output in the second quarter will be hit by Statfjord A and Gullfaks A and B shutdowns, and will fall further in the third quarter because of Statfjord C, Gullfaks C and Ekofisk maintenance stoppages.
Wood Mackenzie saw new fields in 1998 adding an average of 160,000 bpd to UK output, peaking at an extra 390,000 bpd by December 1998, while start-ups in 1997 added an average of 80,000 bpd to last year's figures.
"A number of new field start-ups late in the year and the completion of a significant level of redevelopment work now provide an excellent platform to which the 22 new developments due onstream in 1998 can add," the consultants wrote.
Offshore tanker loading will account for a record 26 % of British output in 1998 while the Forties and Flotta pipeline systems will increase volumes, with 8 new fields due to feed crude to the Forties terminal at Cruden Bay.
BP should bring on 6 new fields in 1998, Shell 5 and Phillips Petroleum Co should begin production at a further 3, Wood Mac said.
The purchase of mature assets by small companies determined to extend their lives will keep the number of oil fields due to be decommissioned in 1998 down to just one - the Talisman-operated Clyde satellite Leven.

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