Leading oil industry figure Sir Ian Wood has warned six billion barrels of oil reserves could be lost unless radical measures are taken by the UK Government.
According to reports, he said a third of what remains under the seabed – estimated to be worth around £200billion – could be abandoned.
Sir Ian’s comments come ahead of the budget with industry leaders calling for significant changes to take hold to its current fiscal regime.
The oil expert said: “The danger is that if we lost momentum now and lose recourses and assets, and don’t get the fiscal regime fit for a quite highly mature area, we will come down to 10-11billion (oil reserves).
“That’s a huge economic loss and jobs loss for the UK.”
The billionaire has previously warned in The Wood Review, which was published last year, that the estimated reserves still to be produced from the North Sea were in excess of 16billion barrels.
But Sir Ian Wood has raised concern that the current price of oil could lead to decommissioning earlier than planned and, as a result, the loss of millions of barrels of oil.
His comments come after a number of job losses from North Sea operations, including BP.
Contractor rates have also been hit by the decline in oil price with WGPSN, Apache and BG.
The SNP urged Westminster to bring forward immediate support for the industry following Sir Ian’s comments.
The Scottish Government itself has already proposed three key measures to support the industry – an investment allowance to provide support for fields that incur higher costs to develop, an immediate reversal of the increase in the supplementary charge implemented in 2011 and the introduction of an exploration tax credit to help increase levels of exploration and sustain future production.
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