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    Wilson issues challenge to unlock North Sea's potential

    News // September 7, 2001
    UK Energy Minister Brian Wilson has challenged the oil and gas industry to unlock the hundreds of fields which are lying unexploited on the UK's continental shelf.

    There are currently 250 fallow fields and 200 unused licences. Research by the DTI shows that these fields could play an important role in helping the industry meet its ambitious investment target of 3bn each year.

    Speaking at a meeting of British and international oil industry executives at the 'Offshore Europe' conference in Aberdeen, Wilson said: "I want to work in partnership with the industry to see as many of these fields as possible developed".

    "We will not have done our job properly if we fail to create conditions that ensure that all of our existing economic developments are brought into production and we fail to reap the benefit of the full potential of the fields we have already licensed."

    Wilson added: "I have established a group of officials and industry representatives to secure a voluntary solution to successfully resolve this issue to the benefit of every one involved. The group is working towards commercial solutions, underpinned byour existing powers. I want to see early advances on reaching agreement on the way forward".

    "I have high expectations of progress in this area. No one should doubt the Government's resolve that licences should be in the hands of companies that want to develop them. Hundreds of fallow fields and unused licences are a luxury which we can no longer afford".

    "Our system has traditionally given operators a great deal of time and flexibility in determining the pace of development. However, at this stage in the life cycle of the UKCS, I think we are entitled to ask for firm plans or else alternative proposals".

    "Working through PILOT, companies have in the last year made clear their commitment to identify and develop projects in previously unexploited areas. However I want to see more done to ensure we meet the ambitious targets of PILOT's vision for 2010".

    "The award of offshore petroleum licences in this year's 19th Round will see drilling activity West of Shetland. If successful, this is clearly an important first step in developing this new area of the UK Continental Shelf which offers world class potential."

    Mr Wilson also announced the approval of two new projects in the Northern North Sea: Shell's Penguins development and Canadian Natural Resources International's Columba-E project. The Minister said these were examples of how the use of new technology andinnovative approaches had brought to fruition fields previously thought to be uneconomic.

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