North Sea regulator will become more robust to spur exploration

The Oil and Gas Authority has pledged to become “increasingly robust” in an effort to revitalise exploration in the North Sea.

In its new corporate plan for 2019-24, the OGA said it wanted licence holders to deliver 200 million barrels of oil equivalent on average over five years.

The regulator urged companies to step up and deliver more wells, and vowed to make sure promising opportunities are drilled or relinquished.

It also warned that industry could not fall back to the “dark days” of 2011-14, when production efficiency was “unacceptably low” and costs were “simply too high”.

The OGA also said it had intervened in more than 50 “cases”, to date, but had resolved well over half of them without the need to escalate to the formal use of its powers.

It has the right to impose fines of up to £1 million and revoke licences.

Report authors said the OGA had straightened out commercial issues, helped to align joint venture partnerships, asset transfers, licence commitments, and third party access disputes.

The corporate plan recommitted the regulator to revitalising exploration, improving asset stewardship, driving regional development, improving decommissioning efficiency, leveraging technology and data, creating the right conditions and developing people, processes and systems.

New elements included an even stronger emphasis on digital and the use of big data to revolutionise industry practice, and acknowledging the importance of the energy transition.

OGA chief executive Andy Samuel said: ‘We continue to focus on activities that create maximum value for the UK from exploration and efficient production all the way through to reducing decommissioning costs and enabling carbon capture.

“We’re also now working substantial opportunities for offshore energy integration to support the energy transition.”

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