The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) yesterday vowed to up its game to match Norway’s gathering and provision of production data.
OGA operations director Gunther Newcombe accepted the UK was lagging behind and could learn a lot from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).
Mr Newcombe also laid down the law for licence holders who were reluctant to push the envelope and start drilling wells due to cost pressures.
Furthermore, he predicted an increase in North Sea exploration and appraisal (E&A) activity in the short term.
On production data, Mr Newcombe said: “We need to up our game, that’s a fair comment. We’re not as good as the NPD. We aspire to being as good as that. They do a fantastic job in this area, so we definitely want to sharpen up our tools at this point.”
Mr Newcombe was speaking during a panel session at MER UK in Practice at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.
The full-day event was held to explain how the OGA intends to regulate, influence and promote the UK continental shelf (UKCS) to maximise economic recovery (MER).
Mr Newcombe said the OGA did have a monthly production report, but that more work needed to be done on data provision to highlight the UK continental shelf’s performance.
He told the 450 attendees: “We haven’t really looked at that carefully enough … it’s been a bit loose, in fairness. We’ve not followed this up, but we intend to do that.
“We intend to pull this data together. At the moment we get it in dribs in drabs so we’re going to do this in a far more efficient and effective way.”
Mr Newcombe also said the OGA would engage with licence holders about their drilling commitments, but warned they should not expect to be let off the hook.
He said: “In theory, you should have done all the evaluation you needed to do, so that’s the first point that’s worth making.
“In conversation with the OGA, if we see something as being incredibly technical, high risk and uneconomical we have some sympathy with that.
“But then, you’ve still made a firm commitment to spend money. You’ve kept others out of the licence
“The MER UK strategy says if you’ve got firm well commitments, but you’re not going to meet them on that licence, maybe you can transfer them to another licence or do something that is the equivalent of a firm well.
“So we’re up for listening, but at the end of the day, firm well commitments are made to give you a competitive edge so we’ll just have to manage this.”
Mr Newcombe also said he expected exploration activity to pick up over the next few years.
He said the OGA had a deep insight into the segment and was working hard to make sure the right wells are drilled.
He said: “We have reasonable confidence the well count is going to start picking up. We’re not talking about dozens of wells, but maybe 16 to 20 or to 26 over the next three years, making its way to the target of 50 we set for the end of 2021.”