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    North Sea oil reserves 'will last decades'

    News // June 6, 2008

    The North Sea has almost as much oil left as has already been extracted, a BBC Scotland investigation has been told.

    According to BBC News Online, experts believe that between 25 and 30 billion barrels could still be recovered over the next 40 years.

    "Calculating oil reserves is not an exact science and this fact has made it difficult over the years to weigh up the true wealth of oil beneath the North Sea. Oil producers have tended to play down their oil reserves. The markets do not cope well with shocks, so companies take the view that it is better to pleasantly surprise than disappoint them," said the report.

    2In 2004, Shell stunned shareholders when it revised its proven oil and gas reserves, slimming the figure by 20c per cent. The revelation had an instant impact on the company's share price and has served as a lesson to the industry ever since."

    However, up to 30 billion barrels may be left, almost as much as has already been extracted, according to Alex Kemp, Professor of Petroleum Economics at Aberdeen University.

    Professor Kemp also said that up to 300 fields remain undeveloped. "We've produced, since day one, 37-and-a-half billion barrels of oil equivalent," Prof Kemp told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.

    "The remaining reserves on central estimates could be 20-22 billion barrels equivalent and on optimistic estimates could be over 30.

    "So there still is a substantial amount left."

    But the size of fields is smaller with a production average of less than 20 million barrels - compared with 500 million in the early 1970s.

    Challenging conditions such as heavy oil, deep formations and high pressures also mean the price per barrel is "very, very high" to extract, Prof Kemp added.

    "So although we could have 300 fields undeveloped there are good reasons why everybody's not rushing to develop them all," he added.



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