British oil and gas output increased, though country still depends on imports to shore up the gap. Inland shale could help eat into deficit, however. Photo courtesy of U.K. Oil and Gas Investments
LONDON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Total British net energy production increased last year for the first time in nearly 20 years in part because of new gas output, the government said.
The British government released provisional data for 2015 that show primary energy production increased 9 percent, the first such increase since 1999. The government attributed the increase to new oil and natural gas production.
Total British oil and liquids production increased 12.8 percent because of new production and fewer shutdowns attributed to maintenance activity. Nevertheless, the country remained a net importer of petroleum products.
Oil & Gas U.K., the industry's lobbying group, said maturation and pressure from lower crude oil prices means the North Sea oil sector is in for a long period of decline, with less than $1.4 billion in new spending expected in 2016.
Onshore, however, oil is flowing naturally from the Horse Hill shale basin. U.K. Oil & Gas Investments, the site's operator, said production there could translate to the 2030 equivalent of 30 percent of the nation's oil demand.
Natural gas production, meanwhile, increased 8.5 percent, the first major build since 2000, because of the launch of operations at new fields. As with oil, imports exceed production despite the increase in output.
In terms of renewables, the government has been under pressure for a mixed energy policy that critics say favors fossil fuels. Low-carbon electricity generation, however, accounted for 42.9 percent to total supply last year, up 7.3 percent from the previous year.
European renewables company DONG Energy in early February said it was moving forward with plans to build the Hornsea wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire in England. Designed with a full capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts, it will be the world's largest offshore wind farm.