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UK oil and gas reserves may last only a decade, study claims

20 September 2017

The UK oil industry is entering its final decade of production, research by scientists at the University of Edinburgh suggests. A study of output from offshore fields estimates that close to 10% of the UK's original recoverable oil and gas remains, 11% of oil and 9% of gas resources. The study also claimed that fracking is unlikely to be economically feasible in the UK because of a lack of sites with suitable geology.

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If the study's predictions are correct, the UK will soon have to import all the oil and gas it needs, the authors said. Instead, they recommended a move towards greater use of renewable energy sources, particularly offshore wind and advanced solar energy technologies.

Professor Roy Thompson from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: "The UK urgently needs a bold energy transition plan, instead of trusting to dwindling fossil fuel reserves and possible fracking.

"We must act now and drive the necessary shift to a clean economy with integration between energy systems. There needs to be greater emphasis on renewables, energy storage and improved insulation and energy efficiencies."

A UK government spokesman said: "We do not recognise these figures. Research by the independent Oil and Gas Authority shows that in 2035, North Sea gas will still meet around a quarter of UK demand with oil from the same source meeting around a third."

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: "There are up to 20 billion barrels of oil and gas resources still to be recovered on the UK Continental Shelf, based on production forecasts provided by the Oil and Gas Authority."

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