North Sea perils
A global approach was never part of the game.
This is why we have this very divided infrastructure where potential exploration blocks have been carved out between a large number of operators, a bit like the rail system.
Many exploration companies have packed up, and many have sold out to cash in after a discovery or left the North Sea after drilling a few dry holes.
Despite the existence of the best technology, the North Sea still comes with high environmental risks.
And no matter how big or well-established oil companies are, they still need to be able to guarantee that their bills will be paid if something goes wrong.
Many supply and engineering companies also have export portfolios which are worth more than their North Sea business, suggesting many might relocate to other countries where demand is exceeding expectations.
So why are Scotland’s shipyards only ticking over thanks to Ministry of Defence contracts? We should have set them up to build the infrastructure to support the North Sea oil industry.
It is only right that more attention is paid to ways to get more bang out of the North Sea oil and gas fields. The possible pitfall, however, is that getting increased yearly output as soon as possible just takes us a few years nearer the rapid, inevitable decline as even the most hostile crude wells are pumped out.
Is it better to capitalise on getting higher revenues now, or to have a longer period of lower but steadier returns?
Can a balance be struck, assuming that the desired close co-operation between the many North Sea oil and gas enterprises develops?
The UK’s and thus Scotland’s accumulated and growing debt need to be clawed back fast, so perhaps increasing oil and gas revenues now is best.