Offshore exploration and appraisal drilling on the UK Continental Shelf went down in 2015, new figures show.
Thirteen offshore exploration wells were drilled last year, one fewer than in 2014, according to UK Government statistics published this week.
Offshore appraisal drilling decreased from 18 wells two years ago to 13 in 2015.
But offshore development drilling went up by three last year to 129.
Onshore, the total number of exploration, appraisal and development wells dropped from 19 in 2014 to eight last year.
The decrease in drilling activity was widely expected as the industry struggles to adjust to low crude prices.
It follows the more encouraging news that UK oil and gas production went up by about 8% last year − the first annual increase for more than 15 years.
Mile Tholen, economics director at industry body Oil and Gas UK, said: “While the industry recently announced a rise of more than 8% in oil and gas production, the same cannot be said for the sector’s exploration activities where the challenge of attracting investment into a maturing basin continues.
“Tough economic conditions persist but with billions of barrels of hydrocarbons still to be extracted from the UKCS, the sector is committed to collective efforts aimed at re-evaluating how it can best pinpoint commercial opportunities more accurately and efficiently convert discoveries into economically viable developments.”