§ Mr. Dempsey
asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he will publish his next report to Parliament on production and reserves of oil and gas in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Benn
My 1976 Report to Parliament entitled "Development of the Oil and Gas Resources of the United Kingdom" is being published this afternoon and copies are available in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office stores.
The report shows 1975 to have been the busiest year so far on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf as well as the year of the first production of oil from the North Sea. Production should increase rapidly as more fields come on-stream and production in 1980 is forecast at 95 million-115 million tonnes—more than equal to estimated national consumption. As a result of companies taking longer over the appraisal of new finds, this is slightly lower than last year's estimate of 100 million-130 million tons. Our proven recoverable reserves of oil now stand at over 1,350 million tonnes, compared to a figure of 1,060 million tons in the 1975 Brown Book—an increase of 30 per cent. Total recoverable reserves in presently designated areas of our Continental Shelf are estimated at between 3,000 million and 4,500 million tonnes—the same as the 1975 estimate.
Production of natural gas from the Continental Shelf last year totalled 37.2 billion cubic metres—equivalent to more than 30 million tonnes of oil—which represents 97 per cent. of total United Kingdom gas supplies and a saving of over £1,000 million, on the balance of payments. Reserves of gas in all dis- 148W coveries in the United Kingdom sector made up to the end of 1975 are now estimated to be between 815 billion and 1,430 billion cubic metres and should support a production level of about 200 million cubic metres a day by the 1980s.
During 1975, 24 new discoveries of oil and four new discoveries of gas/condensate were made, the total of oil discoveries being virtually as many as in the previous five years of exploration. Drilling activity over the last year has been at a higher level than ever before, particularly in the areas to the east of Shetlands and Scotland, with exceptionally high success rates.