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British energy sector facing risks

Last year was better than expected, but no silver lining for oil and gas.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Jan. 4, 2016 at 7:16 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The British oil and gas industry showed resiliency during last year's market downturn, but should be prepared for challenges in 2016, Oil and Gas U.K. said.

The industry group cheered government data that show total oil and gas production for the first 10 months of 2015 up 8.6 percent year-on-year. Though full records for November and December have yet to materialize, the group said full-year output should be at least 7 percent higher than in 2014.

Crude oil prices are down about 25 percent compared with this time last year and off more than 60 percent from their mid-2014 highs. That leaves energy companies with less capital to invest in oil and gas exploration and production.

Deirdre Michie, the head of the industry group, said in early 2015 the market outlook was "bleak."

"While the British offshore oil and gas industry is having to adapt to the low oil price and driving greater efficiencies throughout its operations the fact is that the value of our product has more than halved," she said in her latest statement. "Times are really tough for this industry and for the people working in it."

Nevertheless, Michie said oil and gas has seen investments of more than $70 billion in the last four years. Last week, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., known also as TAQA, said it started producing oil from its Cladhan field in the British waters of the North Sea, its largest project to date.

Michie said this was welcome news, but should not mask the underlying risks facing the industry moving forward.

"As we go through these times, we have to be resilient and focus on what we need to do to get us through the coming months to ensure an enduring industry for the future," she said.

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