UK North Sea drilling takes a tumble

Exploration drilling on the UK shelf tailed off markedly last year, according to Deloitte’s latest North West Europe Review.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK -- Exploration drilling on the UK shelf tailed off markedly last year, according to Deloitte’s latest North West Europe Review.

Exploration and appraisal (E&A) well spuds dropped from 121 in 2008 to 78 in 2009, a level last seen in 2004. The number of exploratory wells was almost half the tally for the previous year, and in the final quarter, there were only 13 new spuds – 38% less than in Q4 2008.

New activity in the Northern North Sea was down 65% on 2008’s figure, with the Central North Sea slipping 47%, and the Moray Firth 26% lower. However, there was a 23% increase in E&A wells in the UK’s current hot spot, the West of Shetlands and the Atlantic Margin. There were also wells in the East Irish Sea, the first since 2005.

According to Deloitte’s Petroleum Services Group MD, Graham Sadler, the figures reflect the industry’s difficulties not just with macro-economic conditions, but also rig availability and oil price availability.

Senior Partner Derek Henderson added that although the outlook in 2010 looks more positive, the economy remains fragile, keeping the brakes on spending. “Looking forward, we would hope that less volatility in commodity prices and more stable operating conditions would improve confidence and overall activity levels.”

01/15/2010

More in Regional Reports