Onshore oil production in the UK in 2022 slumped to the lowest level since 1989.
The fall was despite the start of production at the Wressle site in Lincolnshire in July 2022, more than two years of rising oil prices and growing political interest in domestic energy security.
Official figures from the industry regulator showed that the onshore total in 2022 was 813,017m3, down 1.82% on 2021.
The data also reveals that the 2022 total onshore oil volume was:
- The lowest for 34 years (1989: 705,348m3)
- The 12th lowest since this set of records began in 1979
- The eighth consecutive annual fall in production
- 2.1% of total UK oil production
According to the data, 2022 was the sixth consecutive year when onshore UK production volume was below one million m3.
But the recent rate of decline appears to be shallowing. The fall in production in 2021 was 4.77% down on 2020. 2020 was down 5.78% on 2019.
The fall in the national onshore total was largely because of declining production at the UK’s biggest onshore field, Wytch Farm.
The Wytch Farm effect
As in previous years, more than 80% of UK onshore oil production was from a single field, Wytch Farm in Dorset.
In 2022, this field produced 664,613m3, or 81% of the UK total.
Production in 2022 at Wytch Farm was down 4.7% on 2021.
2022 saw the ninth consecutive annual fall in production at Wytch Farm and the lowest total for the field since 2011 (627,560m3).
After Wytch Farm, the next nine highest-ranking UK onshore fields produced 113,041m3, almost 14% of the onshore total.
Production from these nine fields in 2022 was 18% higher than in 2021. This was largely because of half a year of formal production at Wressle, along with higher production at Stockbridge and Humbly Grove.
Ranked by volume, they were: Welton, Lincolnshire; Singleton, West Sussex; Wressle, Lincolnshire; Stockbridge, Humbly Grove and Horndean, Hampshire; Scampton North, Glentworth and Whisby, Lincolnshire; and Beckingham, Surrey.
As in previous years, the Wytch Farm operator, Perenco, was the largest individual producer, with 82.6% of UK onshore production, totalling 671,363.
Compared with 2021, Perenco saw a fall in both its total volume (down by 4.74%) and share of production (down from 85.1%).
After Perenco, the next highest ranked operator, IGas, produced 99,548m3. This was down 2% on 2021 (101,797m3). IGas’s 2022 production represented 12.2% of the UK onshore total, down slightly on 2021.
The remaining seven onshore oil producing companies accounted for 42,106m3 or 5% of the UK onshore total in 2022. This was higher than their contribution in 2021, largely because of the start of production at Egdon’s Wressle site.
Ranked by volume, they were: Egdon Resources (20,953m3); EP UK Investments (11,156m3); Britnrg Limited (4,369m3); UK Oil & Gas plc (2,948m3), Europa Oil and Gas, (2115m3), Onshore Oilfield Services (381m3) and Angus Energy (184m3).
2022 saw record levels of flaring at onshore oil producing fields, at 9,615m3.
This figure was almost 30% higher than 2021. The increase was largely because of production at the Wressle site.
More details in the DrillOrDrop article Offshore flaring halves in four years but onshore hits record high
- Some of the figures in the NSTA oil production database for 2021 have changed since we reported a year ago.
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