Marginal oil fields ‘worth £40bn to UK’

The Scotsman reports that the North Sea could hold more than £40 billion of “unforeseen” oil revenues in fields which were rejected for development but could now be exploited with the latest exploration and recovery technology.

The fields in the UK continental shelf could create 2,500 jobs and £26bn of investment, as well as giving the “national economy a much needed boost”, a report by analysts at RMRI Consulting has found.

There has not been a significant oil field discovered, holding hundreds of millions of barrels, for five years in the region.

Marginal fields in the UK waters in the North Sea are estimated to hold about 1.2 billion barrels of oil. Production levels in the North Sea have been declining since the turn of the century. Anywhere between 12 to 21 billion barrels are thought to remain – against 41 billion which have already recovered.

It is clear that the discovery of any new oil reserves of note would be particularly useful in supporting the SNP’s arguments in favour of the financial viability of an independent Scotland. However, this news does not alter the fact that even under the most optimistic estimates, only one-third of the original oil deposits remain.