UK onshore oil production falls for seventh year in 2021

Annual UK onshore oil production has fallen again, continuing a downward trend in 2021 that began in the 1990s.

Source: North Sea Transition Authority

Official figures from the industry regulator shows that onshore oil production was down nearly 5% on 2020.

The data reveals:

  • 2021 total onshore oil was 828,624m3
  • This was the seventh consecutive year of falling oil volumes onshore
  • The onshore share of total UK oil production remained below 2% – as it has for six of the past 10 years

Covid-19 may have continued to affect some production volumes in 2021. But the lockdown began a phased exit in March 2021. And operators might have been expected to respond to rising prices. The UK benchmark price for Brent crude increased from $54.77 a barrel in January 2021 to $83.54 in October 2021.

Declining trend

2021 was the fifth consecutive year when total annual onshore oil production was below 1,000,000m3.

Overall onshore oil production was 4.7% below the 2020 figure of 869,883m3. (2019-2020 saw the largest annual percentage fall since 2016-1017.)

As in previous years, the overall figures hide variations.

  • The UK’s biggest onshore oilfield at Wytch Farm in Dorset fell 5%, below 700,000m3 for the first time since 2011.
  • The second biggest producer, Welton in Lincolnshire, rose 16% on 2020, after a 28% fall the year before.
  • Goodworth, in Hampshire, rose more than 70% from 968m3 in 2020 to 1,656m3 in 2021
  • Also in Hampshire, Humbly Grove dropped 50% from 13,486m3 in 2020 to 7,272m3 in 2021
  • Horse Hill in Surrey fell 20% from 6474m3 in its first year of production in 2020 to 4,861m3 in 2021.

The onshore contribution to total UK oil production rose to 1.80%, compared with 1.58% in 2020 and 1.56% in 2019. But it remained below the share seen in the five years from 2012-17.

Most from one field

As in previous years, most UK onshore production was from Wytch Farm. In 2021, this field produced 697,989m3, 84.23% of the UK onshore total. Wytch Farm saw its seventh consecutive fall in production. 2021 was the lowest volume since 2011.

Source: North Sea Transition Authority
Source: North Sea Transition Authority

The next nine highest ranking producers accounted for 95,449m3 – below 11% of the onshore total. As in previous years, these fields were either in the Weald in southern England or in Lincolnshire.

Ranked by volume, they were: Welton, Lincolnshire; Singleton, West Sussex; Stockbridge, Horndean and Humbly Grove, all in Hampshire; Glentworth, Scampton North and Whisby, Lincolnshire; and Horse Hill in Surrey.

The remaining 23 UK onshore oil producing sites produced 39,722m3 or 4.8% of the annual onshore total.

Company volumes

Not surprisingly, the Wytch Farm operator, Perenco, was the biggest individual producer, with 85.1% of UK onshore production in 2021, totalling 704,751m3. As well as Wytch Farm, the company operates the Kimmeridge and Wareham, also in Dorset.

The next highest ranked operator, IGas, produced 102,311m3, or 12.3%. This was up on 2020 (99,168m3), when sites were suspended because of covid-19.

Source: North Sea Transition Authority

The remaining six companies produced 21,562 or 2.6% of the UK onshore total in 2021. They were ranked: EP UK Investments (Humbly Grove), Britnrg Limited (Whisby), UKOG (Horse Hill), Europa Oil & Gas (Crosby Warren and West Firsby), Egdon Resources (Fiskerton Airfield and Keddington) and Onshore Oilfield Services Limited (Farleys Wood).

Angus Energy, a producer in 2020, extracted no oil in 2021, according to the figures.

The Egdon Resources site at Wressle was not counted in the production data because it is continued to undergo testing.

December 2021 data

This post also includes data in our monthly series reviewing the latest onshore oil production.

Key figures

Daily production: 14,345 barrels per day (bopd)

Weight: 58,246 tonnes

Volume: 70,699 m3

Volume of onshore as a proportion of UK total oil production: 1.83%

Source: North Sea Transition Authority

Headline of the month: rises in daily production, weight, volume and contribution to total UK oil production.

The data in this post was compiled by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) from reports by oil companies. It is published three months in arrears. All the charts are based on the NTSA data.


Source: North Sea Transition Authority
Source: North Sea Transition Authority
Source: North Sea Transition Authority
Source: North Sea Transition Authority

Top sites

Source: North Sea Transition Authority

Humbly Grove in Hampshire reclaimed its place in the top five in December 2021, after calling 74% in November 2021. Horse Hill continued its fall in the rankings, down to 13th place, despite a production increase of nearly 6%.

Wytch Farm and Welton saw monthly increases in production but tonnage at Singleton (third placed) and Stockbridge (fourth) was down.

There were also reductions at Whisby, Beckingham, Scampton North, Cold Hanworth, Gainsborough and Storrington. December 2021 saw increases at Glentworth, Kimmeridge, Wareham and Corringham.

Top producers

Source: North Sea Transition Authority

Perenco, the largest onshore producer and operator of Wytch Farm, saw its weight of oil rise more than 2,500 tonnes.

Production from IGas fields was down more than 500 tonnes and its share fell more than 1.5%. EP UK Investments, which operators Humbly Grove, rose back up the rankings, increasing its weight and contribution to UK onshore totals, compared with November 2021.

Egdon Resources’ oil production fell by 50 tonnes. All eyes are on the first formal production results from Wressle.

There was no production from 13 onshore oil sites:

  • IGas fields at Avington, Egmanton, Nettleham, Palmers Wood, Scampton, South Leverton and Stainton
  • Egdon Resources fields at Dukes Wood, Kirklington and Waddock Cross
  • Angus Energy sites at Lidsey and Brockham
  • Britnrg site at Newton-on-Trent

4 replies »

  1. The largest on shore oil field in Europe peaks and then starts to decline. (Peaked at over 100k barrels per day, now around 10-15k.)

    Just means that the smaller oil finds since will not even replace what was already being produced in UK on shore.

    So, what is the fuss about? I seem to recall that when Wytch Farm was peaking there was a lot of support for the fact that there was a significant local source. Yet, now, all that is stated is the nonsense about impacts of much smaller sites. Where were the negative impacts from 100k barrels per day. Nowhere, because they were not observed. The site was actually used by one University lecturer I know to demonstrate a model for industry within a sensitive location.

    • The problem Martin, that when out of site and out of mind. The worlds carries on, the loud and proud, anarchists who’s children have grown up and left home, have resorted due to boredom to slander an industry they have literally taken for granted!, and don’t understand. It’s now in a community of nimby’s, anti’s and uninformed minorities!

      These falsehoods coming from the protesters:
      – this production, it’s not ever going to be used in this country it’s being exported!! Yes like animals, textiles, food and drink. We import and export everything, tax to the benefit of all that’s how the world works.
      – it’s only the rich minority who benefit from onshore oil production?, yes and no, the majority of funds is taxed to the benefit of all!
      – producing oil and gas is going against the climate change policy? We are all in a carbon net zero ‘transition’ it takes time! The full economic case for energy transition is not entirely known and we’ll be bankrupt before we get there and with no gross domestic product to barter with!!
      Waken up people and clear out your heads, energy transition, emergency, what ever you call it, is a very big challenge, with a world population looking to hit 9 billion in 2030, some say Net Zero is unachievable!

      • Reminds me of a Monty Python sketch? Though I don’t know why that sprang to mind just then? Must have been something I read?

        Have a Nice Day

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