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Energy report urges UK to go Dutch in its Southern North Sea exploration

PUBLISHED: 05:30 25 February 2014

Sir Ian Wood former chairman of the Wood Group

Sir Ian Wood former chairman of the Wood Group

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East Anglia’s energy sector must learn from the Dutch if its to make the most of the remaining Southern North Sea (SNS) gas reserves, the Wood Review has found.

Former oil industry boss Sir Ian Wood said the UK was trailing behind the Netherlands when it came to extracting gas despite having more reserves to draw from.

The Dutch government’s investment in infrastructure, its close regulation and the open approach its takes to sharing information had prevented disputes and aided production across the SNS region, the Wood Report claimed.

It came as Sir Ian used the findings to press for a new regulator of the UK oil and gas industry, which he advised to create regional plans for key areas to boost exploration and future development.

But he made it clear that while SNS gas production had a strong future, it needed fresh investment in infrastructure to maximise extraction and prevent gas plants being decommissioned too early.

Simon Gray, chief executive of the East of England Energy Group, said Sir Ian’s recommendations could lead to a renaissance of gas production in the SNS.

“I am very excited by the report and it’s great to see sir Ian has tackled so many key issues and encouraged urgent action,” he said.

“Although investment in the SNS has been up in the last few years, gas production is down.

“Because prices and the tax regime favour oil production rather than gas, sir Ian recognised that it could mean significant premature decommissioning of gas infrastructure and a lost chance to extract much of the remaining reserves.

“To tackle that issue would mean continued exploration and production of the gas fields off our coast and the extension of the business for at least another 20-30 years.”

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