UK onshore oil production fell to a seven-year low in 2018, according to official data.
Figures from the Oil & Gas Authority released this month revealed that total onshore oil production in 2018 dropped 3% to 947,453m3, down from 977,280m3 in 2017.
This continued a general downward trend for the past 20 years. Most onshore production was from one oil field. Onshore wells contributed less than 2% of total UK oil production in 2018.
This suggests that onshore oil operators have a long way to go to meet claims that they can replace declining North Sea oil production or imports.
83% of oil from one site
83% of all UK onshore oil in 2018 was produced by Perenco’s field at Wytch Farm in Dorset.
Its production was 786,601m3, down 2.8% on 2017 (809,258m3).
The site has seen a near-steady fall in production in the past 20 years. Production in 2018 was 86% down on the peak in 1996.
33 other oil sites
The remaining 17% of UK onshore oil production in 2018 came from 33 sites.
The site with the second highest production was Welton, in Lincolnshire, operated by IGas. It produced 28,078m3 of oil, just under 3% of the annual onshore total.
The only other sites producing more than 10,000m3 were IGas sites at Singleton in West Sussex (23,786m3, 2.5%) and Stockbridge in Hampshire (18,270m3, 1.9%) and Petronas’s Humbly Grove in Hampshire (15,814m3, 1.7%).
The remaining 28 sites produced almost 8% of UK onshore oil – a total of 74,903m3.
The Kimmeridge field, in Dorset, operated by Perenco, saw a 1,000m3 fall in production in 2018, to 2,898m3. The site produced no oil in September 2018 and virtually none the month before. Values appeared to have recovered in November and December.
Angus Energy’s site at Lidsey, in West Sussex, increased production from 134m3 in 2017 to 763m3 in 2018. But production at the site, where the company drilled a new sidetrack well, was still down on the four consecutive years from 2008-2011 where levels exceeded 1,000m3.
The company’s other site at Brockham in Surrey resumed production in 2018, recording 209m3 after a pause in 2017. According to the OGA data, the site produced 60m3 in 2016 and 1165m3 in 2015.
Leading producing companies
Perenco produced about 84% of UK onshore oil from three sites: Wytch Farm (786,601m3), Wareham (3,829m3) and Kimmeridge (2,899m3).
IGas produced 13% on onshore oil from 22 sites. In order of size, these were:
- Welton (28,078m3)
- Singleton (23,786 m3)
- Stockbridge (18270 m3)
- Horndean (7,919m3)
- Bletchingley (6,242m3)
- Glentworth (5,222m3)
- Palmers Wood (5,138m3)
- Beckingham (4,990m3)
- Scampton North (4,976m3)
- Cold Hanworth (4,934m3)
- Gainsborough (4,093m3)
- Corringham (2,830m3)
- Storrington (2,490m3)
- East Glentworth (1564m3)
- Goodworth (1,461m3)
- Bothamsal (1,444m3)
- Long Clawson (933 m3)
- Rempstone (572m3)
- Beckingham West (421m3)
- Egmanton (284m3)
- Stainton (257m3)
- South Leverton (211m3)
Petronas produced 2% of total UK onshore oil production from one site at Humbly Grove (15,814m3).
The remaining five companies together produced just over 1% of the total from eight sites in 2018. These were:
- Angus Energy
- Lidsey (763m3)
- Brockham (209m3)
- Blackland Park
- Whisby (4,872m3)
- Egdon Resources
- Keddington (1,270m3)
- Fiskerton (1,121m3)
- Europa Oil and Gas
- West Firsby (1,991m3)
- Crosby Warren (1,362m3)
- Onshore Oilfield Services Limited
- Farleys Wood (605m3)
No production from seven sites
According to the data, seven onshore sites which had produced oil in the past 20 years saw no production in 2018.
- Albury, Surrey, IGas, last produced oil in 2017
- Dukes Wood, Nottinghamshire, Egdon Resources, last produced oil in 2014 (483m3)
- Herriard, Hampshire, Petronas Energy Trading, last produced oil in 2013 (453m3)
- Nettleham, Lincolnshire, IGas, last produced oil in 2016 (17m3)
- Newton on Trent, Lincolnshire, Blackland Park Exploration, last produced oil in 2016 (70m3)
- Scampton, Lincolnshire, IGas, last produced oil in 2014 (151m3)
- Waddock Cross, Dorset, Egdon Resources, last produced oil in 2014 (300m3)
The OGA data does not include wells, such as UKOG’s Horse Hill, where oil is produced during flow testing.
Another data set from the OGA shows that in the five years from 2014-2018, companies drilled a total of 24 onshore development or production wells across nine UK sites.
Of these, 20 wells were on oil production sites or fields:
- Brockham, Surrey
- Stockbridge (5 wells)
- Wytch Farm (11 wells)
The OGA production data does not show how much oil was produced from individual wells. But we know from site operators that the Brockham well drilled in 2017 does not yet have planning permission for production. The Keddington well was suspended after it failed to flow. One of the Stockbridge wells was for water injection and had to be abandoned because of greater than anticipated reservoir connectivity.
Another 17 exploration or appraisal oil and gas wells were drilled in 2014-2018. Of these, four wells targeting oil have been or are scheduled to be sealed and fully abandoned. Four other oil wells (Broadford Bridge-1 and 1z, Horse Hill-1, and Wressle-1) have not gone into formal production, though they may have produced oil during flow tests. Only one oil well, at Lidsey, has gone into production, based on statements from the site operator, Angus Energy.
According to the OGA data, offshore oil production in 2018 was 56,588,221m3, up 3.4% on the previous year and the highest level since 2011.