UKCS Maximising Recovery Review Interim Report



On 10 June 2013 Edward Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced a review of UK offshore oil and gas recovery and its regulation, led by
Sir Ian Wood.

The UK’s oil and gas industry is of national importance and makes a substantial contribution to our economy, energy security and employment. 41 billion barrels of oil and gas have already been produced from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), and 20 billion or more could still be produced.

So it is vital that we make the most of the huge opportunity that the UKCS continues to represent.

While investment levels are rising and the near- term prospects for the UKCS are strong, as one of the most mature offshore basins in the world, it faces unprecedented challenges in a very different exploration and production environment compared to when production peaked 13 years ago. Thus, this focused in-depth review.


Proposals for greatly enhanced stewardship in next phase of UKCS to maximise oil and gas recovery.

I am pleased to publish my Interim Report today (11 Nov).

Since Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, asked me in June to lead a review of UK offshore oil and gas recovery, I have taken evidence from a large number of interested parties. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have contributed, from both government and industry. My first comment is that Ed Davey was absolutely right to commission this review at such a pivotal time as we move into the next phase of the UKCS.

I have taken evidence from 40 active players in the oil and gas industry representing more than 95% of UKCS production, key government figures, and regulators from neighbouring regimes such as Norway and the Netherlands. The evidence I have received has been consistent and clear. The UKCS is facing a new set of challenges, which are not insurmountable, but will become more difficult to address if we do not act quickly. We must strengthen the capacity and capability of our stewardship regime to significantly enhance collaboration across the UKCS if we are to meet the demands of maturity and diversity, and maximise the economic benefits for both the country and the industry.

Therefore the key finding of my interim report is that Government (both HM Treasury and the Regulator) and Industry must adopt a cohesive tripartite approach to develop and commit to a new, shared strategy of Maximising Economic Recovery for the UK (MER UK) to maximise the huge economic and energy security opportunity that still lies off the UK’s shores.

This will involve more collaboration and more proactive and involved stewardship. My interim report also makes a series of recommendations to each party:

  • HM Treasury should continue to build on the steps already taken (e.g. the creation of brownfield and small field allowances) to incentivise future recovery

  • DECC should: create a new arm’s length regulatory body; provide it with a number of additional powers and capacity; task it with developing and implementing, with industry, strategies in key areas (exploration, infrastructure etc).

  • Industry must make a series of commitments (co-operation in achieving effective field cluster developments, sharing infrastructure, greater asset stewardship etc.) and will be held to account by the new Regulator

I believe this Review provides a real opportunity for a positive step change in the UK’s stewardship of its oil and gas reserves to everyone’s benefit, with a substantial prize on offer for both Government and Industry. My report estimates that full and rapid implementation will deliver at least 3-4bn boe more than would otherwise be recovered over the next 20 years, bringing over £200bn additional value to the UK economy. Subject to feedback, I will be urging DECC and Government to implement the main recommendations on a fast track programme.

I would appreciate your comments on my interim report by 13 December, ahead of publishing my final report early in 2014. This will take into account feedback on the interim findings, provide more detail on the evidence base and consider sector strategies and implementation plans to maximise the economic recovery from the UKCS.

Sir Ian Wood
UKCS Maximising Recovery Review


Sir Ian published his interim report on 11 November 2013. We would welcome any comments on the interim report by 13 December 2013. The final report and recommendations will be produced in early 2014.


Please read the Terms of Reference for the review and the full Written Ministerial Statement that was placed in the Parliament on 10 June 2013: