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Scotland’s Oil Industry Is Returning To Life

Scotland’s oil industry is beginning to show signs of recovery after the most recent downturn, a local port authority said, with a spokeswoman noting that “We have more rigs in for repair, inspection and maintenance, and we see this as a positive sign,” the Daily Record reports.

Rigs are also getting back to drilling: the Maersk Innovator has returned offshore to drill at least three production wells at Nexen Petroleum’s Buzzard platform—the Buzzard is the largest producing oil field in UK waters with daily production of around 190,000 barrels of oil equivalent.

Jobs are starting to return as well: currently, there are 1,400 people working at the Cromarty Firth port, up from half this number a year ago. Yet port authorities are wary of calling it an upturn. They are rather treating these developments as the “first green shoots” of a future recovery.

The UK’s oil industry is concentrated in Scotland, which meant the country was the hardest hit in the downturn. Then local woes continued because Big Oil staged something close to an exodus from the North Sea during the downturn in search for higher-return, lower-cost opportunities.

These were replaced by private equity-backed newly set up energy independents that took over mature fields with the confidence that there is more oil and gas to be squeezed out of mature fields. Chinese energy giants are also interested in North Sea oil and gas as local demand for fossil fuels booms: Nexen is now part of China’s CNOOC. Yet activity and job creation seems to have stalled despite the change of field operators.

What’s more, there are more layoffs on the way: ConocoPhillips recently started implementing a layoff program at its Scottish unit as it halts production at several fields in the southern North Sea to refocus on its Alaskan business.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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