Mark Lammey

Energy Voice editor
North Sea

Opinion: The North Sea isn’t dying, just having a midlife crisis


Next year will mark 50 years since first gas at West Sole, the UK North Sea's first producing field. Since oil prices crashed in 2014, however, pessimism has descended upon the industry like a thick North Sea fog, obscuring five decades of achievement. The 2004-14 boom decade left a legacy of unsustainably high costs, followed by painful restructurings and even outright bankruptcies. UK production levels have fallen over 60% since the peak, investment levels and tax receipts even further, and 120,000 jobs have been lost. 2016 will be the fourth consecutive cash flow negative year, severely curtailing new exploration and development activity. Little wonder the North Sea is widely seen as a busted flush, condemned to a grim future of costly decommissioning.