Never bet against Liverpool … or the North Sea, OGA chief says

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The UK North Sea has a lot in common with Liverpool Football Club, an industry leader said today.

You should never bet against either of them, said Stuart Payne, supply chain director at the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

Mr Payne said: “Much like my beloved Liverpool, the North Sea was a powerhouse in the 1970s and 80s.

“It was exported about Europe with a bit of a swagger and left legacies in other provinces around the world.

“It then had a bit of a confidence dip, it lost its way. But it has now welcomed investment, innovation and techniques from outside.

“It’s a force to be reckoned with again and is leading the charge.

“You should never bet against Liverpool and my advice to anyone looking to invest, work and stay in the UK is never bet against the North Sea either.”

Mr Payne was speaking at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston during a session about investment opportunities in the UK energy industry.

The discussion took place the morning after Liverpool overturned a three goal deficit to reach the Champions League final, with a shock four-nil victory against Spanish giant Barcelona FC.

Mr Payne said new data provided by energy research business Wood Mackenzie showed the UK North Sea was more competitive than a number of other basins on several key metrics.

Woodmac’s report compared the UK with Angola, Brazil, Nigeria, Norway, and the Gulf of Mexico.

It found that the UK had the fastest payback period out of all those basins, which is important at a time when private-equity investment is flowing into the basin.

The UK North Sea was top of the class in terms of the internal rate of return on projects, it had the highest value per barrel, and boasted the most competitive breakeven price.

Mr Payne said it was telling that Woodmac had to check the figures twice because its researchers were so surprised by the outcome.

He said the UK North Sea had to make a better fist of promoting its virtues and that the basin was a “huge playground” for investors to come in and contribute.

Since the downturn struck in 2014, the UK has turned itself into a more efficient basin, cutting unit operating costs in half and raising production to 1.7 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day in 2018, the highest level since 2011.

The OGA recently increased its prediction for the volume of UK North Sea oil and gas that will be recovered between 2016 and 2050 by 3.9 billion boe to 11.9bn, up from the 8bn forecast in 2015.

The additional barrels have come from exploration successes, delaying cessation of production, enhanced oil recovery, and improved behavioural performance.

Mr Payne said the industry, its regulator and the government had put a lot of focus on innovation and working together to make that happen.

Other speakers and panellists during the session included Ian Phillips, chief executive of the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre, in Aberdeen, Rogerio Mendonca, vice president, Baker Hughes GE, and Mark Priest, from the UK Department for International Trade.

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