The Oil and Gas Authority has announced the appointment of a steering group that will look at opportunities to maximise the remaining gas reserves in the Southern Northern Sea (SNS). The SNS Rejuvenation Special Interest Group is a joint initiative with Oil and Gas UK and the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) and it consists of operators, supply chain organisations, service businesses and duty holders.
Members of the steering group include high-profile oil companies such as Shell, Centrica and Premier Oil.
Eric Marston, Southern North Sea and Morecambe Bay manager for the Oil and Gas Authority, launched the event. He stated that he expects the SNS to be a ‘key contributor’ to help fuel the UK into the foreseeable future. However, Marston also explained the challenges facing exploration in the SNS due to limited accessibility, the costs involved and the commercial risks.
Simon Gray, chief executive of EEEGR, described the steering group as a vital piece of work that could help secure the future of the industry for the East region of the UK.
SIG has set itself a vast remit, which aims to “maximise economic recovery (MER) of gas reserves for at least another 20 years by identifying new opportunities, including examining the potential for carboniferous gas reserves”.
Another ambition of the newly-formed steering group is to develop deeper collaborations with its current operators and with offshore wind developers. It also aims to drive down costs by examining standardisation to streamline processes and equipment use.
Commenting on the launch, Deirdre Mickie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said:
“Oil and Gas UK recognises the key role that the SNS gas fields play for UKPLC and we are keen to ensure that our members play a major part in ensuring the future role of these important assets for the nation for generations to come
The inaugural meeting is due to be held in December.
The need for exploration and investment
Figures released by Oil and Gas UK earlier in 2016 illustrated the significant reductions in exploration, especially in the North Sea, and there were also concerns over the limited funding made available for new projects. While new initiatives have been launched, they haven’t made a significant impact on the downward trend in exploration yet.
Oil and Gas UK have previously called for more investment into the sector and a report released in 2016 noted the decline in capital investment, which had fallen to 9 billion in 2015.