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UK Works To Extend Life Of Shrinking Oil, Gas Resources

Britain may depend on imports for 70% of gas by 2030.

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Nearly 400 companies based in the United Kingdom are in Houston this week for the Offshore Technology Conference. One of the main energy concerns now facing the country is diminishing offshore supplies of oil and gas in the North Sea. 

The UK is the largest oil producer in the European Union, as well as its second largest producer of natural gas. Energy Minister Michael Fallon, visiting Houston for the conference, says that until recently, the country was a net energy exporter.

“We’ve taken out over 40 billion barrels. We think we have another 24 billion barrels to go. But it’s a declining basin, sure. And that will move us in the UK from being just an importer at the moment to importing around 70 percent of our gas by 2030, if nothing else changes,” he said.

Fallon says the UK can extend the life of its oil and gas supplies through better regulation of its North Sea resources, as well as development of shale resources onshore in the north of England. But he’s concerned about political developments that could disrupt such efforts.

One such development is a vote on Scottish independence, scheduled for September 18. Fallon says the treasury of the entire UK as it now exists is necessary to continue development of the North Sea. Scotland alone could not afford it.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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