The UK’s oil and gas reserves may only last another decade, newly published research suggests. The findings are likely to be hugely significant for oil and gas handling industries operating in the UK.
After studying output from offshore oilfields, University of Edinburgh researchers estimate that about 10% of the UK’s recoverable oil and gas remains - about 11% of oil resources and 9% of gas resources.
Significantly, the study also concludes that fracking ‘will be barely economically feasible’ in the UK, according to a University of Edinburgh statement, because of a lack of sites with suitable geology. The research suggests that this lack of fracking opportunities will be particularly acute in Scotland.
If the study is correct, the UK will soon have to import all of its oil and gas.
The findings take into account the long-term downward trends of oil and gas field size and lifespan, alongside the breakeven costs for fracking.
It was found that the UK has only minimal potential for fracking. Many sites with suitable geology are in densely populated areas, as well as having low quality source rocks and complex geological histories.
Published by the Edinburgh Geological Society, the analysis of hydrocarbon reserves shows that discoveries have consistently lagged behind output since the point of peak oil recovery in the late 1990s. It is for this reason that the researchers predict oil and gas reserves will be used up within a decade.
The authors of the study strongly urge the UK Government to take account of the projected shortfall in resource availability, and how it could be addressed, in its high profile energy cost report - the Helm Review.
They recommend a push towards greater use of renewable energy sources, especially offshore wind and advanced solar energy technologies.
Professor Roy Thompson, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: "The UK urgently needs a bold energy transition plan, instead of trusting to dwindling fossil fuel reserves and possible fracking.
"We must act now and drive the necessary shift to a clean economy with integration between energy systems. There needs to be greater emphasis on renewables, energy storage and improved insulation and energy efficiencies."