500 new oil and gas fields possible in next 30 years

MORE than 500 new oil and gas fields could be developed in the waters around Britain's coast over the next 30 years, a new study by one of the UK's leading oil economists has revealed.

But the massive investment in the North Sea will only be possible if oil companies base their future development plans on the current high oil price of about $90 per barrel.

Future field development in the North Sea could fall as low as 137 new fields over the next three decades if economic modelling is based on a $50 per barrel price regime, according to a report by Professor Alex Kemp, a world-renowned authority on Britain's oil and gas industry.

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Prof Kemp, an oil economist at Aberdeen University who carried out the study with colleague Linda Stephen, said yesterday that although the potential for discoveries and developments was substantial the report had highlighted the "marked sensitivity" to future prices.

Prof Kemp explained: "In the low price case, field investment falls off dramatically and the production decline rate is very steep. Over the period to 2035 only 137 new fields - excluding incremental projects - are developed."