A top Aberdeen petro-economist predicts more than £250billion will be spent on North Sea oil and gas fields over the next three decades.
Alex Kemp, professor of petroleum economics at Aberdeen University, said operating expenditure will come to £124billion, while spending on decommissioning will be around £54billion by 2050.
Total field-related expenditure will hit £268billion, according to Prof Kemp, who will report the key findings of a new study at a conference at the university today.
Prof Kemp’s study, titled Prospects for Long Term Activity Levels in the UKCS to 2050, also estimates that production from the UK North Sea will reach almost 11billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) by 2050.
While overall production has been increasing since 2014, Prof Kemp predicts a peak will soon be reached.
However, there remains a large amount of unexploited potential that he says will require a concerted effort from industry to realise.
He said: “At 2050 there will still be some modest production activity, and the geographic pattern of activity will change over the period, with oil production in the West of Shetland region becoming increasingly important for both production and investment.
“There remains a large unexploited potential of 5.6billion boe contained in 183 fields in the UKCS, most of which contain less than 20million boe of potentially recoverable reserves.
“The challenge for the industry and the regulator is to find ways to make these fields viable – new technologies such as those being promoted by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre will have a major role to play in this regard.”
The Future of Energy Conference will include presentations from Prof John Paterson from the university’s school of law on decommissioning, and Rebecca Williams, policy manager for RenewableUK.
Other speakers include Adam Ezzamel, project director for Vattenfall’s Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm, and Sam Gomersall from Pale Blue Dot Energy.
Delegates will also hear from David Ritchie, head of energy Industries in the Scottish Government’s Energy and Climate Directorate.
Conference organiser David Toke, programme co-ordinator for the university’s MSc in Energy Politics and Law, said: “This Conference examines the future of the old economy, of oil, and its prospects, and also the new one of renewable energy.
“Aberdeen and the north-east of Scotland is well placed to profit from including activities such as wind power, community heating systems, and hydrogen technology.”