The North Sea covers almost 290,000 square miles. Its average depth is over 310 feet. Beneath its frigid waters are some of the world’s largest oil fields. The oil fields of the North Sea are producing around 1.5 million barrels of oil a day. With the current price for a barrel of oil around $100 and with the world’s high demand for oil, the North Sea is a significant player in the oil industry.
Oil in the North Sea region was discovered in the 1850s in the rocks beneath Germany and Scotland. Natural gas was found in 1910. More oil and natural gas fields were discovered in the area over the years. It was the logical progression to explore the seabed for oils. In the 1960s British Petroleum hit oil in the North Sea. Companies like Phillips Petroleum, Amoco, and Shell followed them. Now numerous companies have lucrative wells drilling into the precious natural resources of the North Sea.
Since this incredible discovery the North Sea oil fields have extracted over 36 billion barrels of oil. Five different countries drill for oil and natural gas in the North Sea. The UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands all have rights to oil extraction in the North Sea based on guidelines set in the 1960s.
The North Sea has always been a cash cow. Since its discovery in the 1960s and with constant new discoveries it has been a steady source of oil and gas for the world. One such discovery was the Buzzard oil field in June 2001. It has yielded approximately 400 million barrels of oil or about 180,000 barrels a day. This sounds like a lot, but it is not enough to sustain the global demand for even a week.
Harsh weather, remote locations, and strange schedules have made drilling incredibly hard to sustain in the North Sea. There is always a high demand for qualified workers to work on the isolated rigs. The North Sea hit its peak production of oil and natural gas between 1999 and 2001. In 1999, the North Sea produced 6 million barrels of oil a day. In 2001, 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were extracted.
Unfortunately, some predictions say that the oil and gas fields of the North Sea are declining, and even predict that the North Sea will be dry of both oil and gas in the next few decades. But others say that the North Sea is gearing up for the next big boom in oil.
The recent advances in technology, the high demand for oil, and the record-breaking prices for a barrel of oil are making drilling opportunities in the North Sea shine. The pessimistic predictions are based on the number of known oil reserves at the bottom of the North Sea. But both Petroleum Review, a popular gas and oil journal, and the Royal Society of Chemistry feel that there are nearly double the amount of oil that is estimated to be there.
A common view is that the oil and gas companies publicize low oil reserve estimates to keep the oil prices at ludicrously high prices. This improves the oil company’s profit margin because of the high global demand and current high prices. While this is sneaky, new research is estimating that the North Sea may be home to nearly 300 unexplored and untapped oil fields that could net nearly 9 billion additional barrels of oil over the next century.
The North Sea oil industry has always been a leader in new technology. They have helped mainstream technologies like 2-d seismic, 3-d seismic, 4-d seismic, sub salt, immersive display, analysis suites, and supercomputing. All of these technologies have helped extract and locate oil in the North Sea. In fact the North Sea’s budget has often even exceeded NASA’s budget. This oil market is far from dry.
Smaller companies like Dana Petroleum and Tullow Oil are heading into the region to explore new regions and tap areas that have previously been too hard to drill. With new technology areas that once couldn’t be drilled now can be. These places have never been worth the big companies time, but with the new technology and high prices, they are now quite profitable – and far from dry. These new companies are there and they are squeezing the reserves. Huge amounts of money are going into oil exploration and production right now.
The North Sea isn’t exactly booming these days but it’s a major oil producing area on the world scene. Thousands of jobs will need to be filled in the next few years to build, run, and maintain the new and old oil rigs. There is money to made and solid careers to be had for workers that are ready for the next big thing in oil – the North Sea.