London — UK oil production rose by nearly 9% on the year in the first quarter of 2019 to 1.18 million b/d, continuing a half-decade revival and beating industry expectations, government statistics released Thursday showed.
The statistics from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy showed crude production had risen by more than 11% to 1.08 million b/d, with the remaining output being natural gas liquids.
"Strong production was noted from established fields as well as new production from Clair Ridge," BEIS said, referring to the BP-led redevelopment of the West of Shetland Clair field, completed last November.
"A trend observed since the middle of 2018 has also been increasing production volumes from projects that opened in late 2017," it added.
UK oil production has revived in the last five years, rising from an annual low of 852,000 b/d in 2014 to 1.09 million b/d last year, but remains well below peaks of nearly 3 million b/d reached in 1999.
Some of the revival is due to projects approved before the oil price downturn, including Clair Ridge, but the industry has also boasted big improvements in efficiency.
The UK improvement contrasts with decline in Norway, where oil output has fallen by about 10% since 2016, pending an expected revival from new fields now under development.
Industry group Oil & Gas UK has forecast that UK oil production will remain broadly stable this year, alongside a slight uptick in gas production.
New oil projects due to start up are more modest in size than projects brought on stream in recent years such as the revamp of the Clair and Schiehallion West of Shetland fields.
Norway's Equinor is due to start production from the UK's Mariner heavy oil field shortly, while Hurricane Energy's Lancaster project is being closely watched for its future potential rather than its immediate production.
Total's Culzean project, due on stream shortly, is expected to add significantly to UK gas output, but to provide only a small amount of liquids.
Note: crude output figures converted at a rate of 7.55 barrels per metric ton, NGLs at 11.5 barrels per metric ton.
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