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UK offshore drilling activity falls 9%

Tuesday 25th January 2011
Offshore drilling on the UK Continental Shelf dipped by 9% during 2010, according to the latest oil and gas industry figures released by Deloitte.

The latest North West Europe Review, compiled by Deloitte’s Petroleum Services Group, reveals that a total of 71 exploration and appraisal wells were spudded in the UK sector last year compared to 77 wells in 2009.

The level of drilling which took place on the UKCS in 2010 is comparable with the levels of drilling seen prior to the record oil prices since 2008.

Graham Hollis, energy partner with Deloitte in Aberdeen, said: "Although the oil price has steadily increased during the second half of 2010, this time last year the economy was still very fragile and it’s likely that economic uncertainty may have played a part in a more cautious approach to drilling schedules for 2010.

"However, the drop from 77 to 71 wells is fairly minimal and last year’s number of wells represents a return to the fairly consistent levels seen throughout much of the last decade. Moreover these figures are in line with what we would expect to see in a more mature region such as the UKCS.

"The 2010 figures show an increase in exploration drilling compared to 2009 and this might be a trend we see continue in 2011 if the higher oil price continues, as more technically difficult drilling projects become more viable."

He added: "The 15% decrease in the number of wells spudded in the UKCS in the fourth quarter of 2010, when compared to the third quarter of last year, is likely to be attributable to the traditional end of year market slowdown."

Despite a year of decreased activity the price of Brent Crude oil experienced a period of sustained growth throughout 2010. In November last year the oil price moved above USD $80 for the whole month producing a monthly average of USD $82, the highest monthly average since September 2008.

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Mike Jones

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