Oil producers in the North Sea were supposed to be among the first victims of OPEC’s battle for market share. Instead their high-cost, decades-old facilities are proving surprisingly resilient to the price slump.
Crude oil and condensate output is likely to continue rising in the U.K. North Sea until 2018 as projects that were sanctioned before crude’s plunge four years ago start up, according to estimates by industry consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Even though production dips after that, output by the end of the decade will still be roughly equal to the 2015 level.
Since 2014, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has pumped without limits and allowed prices to plunge to 12-year lows to squeeze higher-cost rivals. While the strategy is expected to reduce non-OPEC output by 840,000 barrels a day this year, the battle is far from over. The unexpected stamina of areas like the North Sea, where operators have proved adept at keeping the taps open to keep cash flowing, is adding to the global glut and keeping prices lower for longer.