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North Sea discovery could unlock 130 million barrels of oil

PUBLISHED: 08:44 09 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:27 10 October 2017

An oil platform in the North Sea as employers in the oil and gas industry expect recruitment to increase

An oil platform in the North Sea as employers in the oil and gas industry expect recruitment to increase "significantly" in the next year. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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Norwegian energy giant Statoil has announced that a new discovery in the North Sea could contain in the range of 25 to 130 million barrels of oil.

The group said the find, in the Verbier sidetrack well in the outer Moray Firth, is proof that “there could be significant remaining potential” in the basin.

Jez Averty, senior vice president exploration in Norway and the UK at Statoil, said: “This is an encouraging result for Statoil and the UK team.

“We have proven oil in good quality sands with good reservoir properties, but significant work remains, most likely including appraisal, to clarify the recoverable volumes and to refine this range.”

The group said it will continue to assess the data and plan further appraisals to determine the exact size of the discovery, as well as its commercial potential.

The discovery comes just weeks after new research showed that Britain’s oil industry could be entering its final decade of production.

A study of output from offshore fields estimates about 10% of the nation’s original recoverable oil and gas remains, according to the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

If the predictions are correct, the UK would soon have to import all the oil and gas it needs, the university’s scientists warned.

Jenny Morris, vice president for exploration in the UK, said: “Our aim this summer was to develop Statoil’s UK position through testing three independent prospects ranging in geological risk and with a potential impact on our portfolio.

“Whilst the results of the other two exploration wells were disappointing, we are convinced of the remaining, high-value potential on the UK continental shelf and the Verbier result certainly gives us the confidence and determination to continue our exploration efforts.”

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