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Oil and gas: UK

Hydrocarbon Engineering,


  • The UK is the largest producer of oil and the second largest producer of gas in the EU.
  • The UK became a net importer of fossil fuels in 2013.
  • The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world.
  • For the UK to decarbonise its economy, huge investments in the energy infrastructure are needed.
  • Renewable energy use, particularly in the electric power sector, more than tripled between 2000 and 2012.
  • Petroleum and natural gas continues to account for the vast majority of UK’s energy consumption.
  • Energy use per unit of GDP in the UK is one of the lowest among western countries.
  • UK has seen total primary energy consumption decline by 16% between 2004 and 2012.

Petroleum and other liquids

  • Oil remains important to the UK energy balance and contributed 37% of total energy consumption in 2013.
  • Falling production has made the UK increasingly reliant on imports of crude oil and petroleum products.
  • Recent increases in tax rates for the oil and gas sector, coupled with the technical issues, have contributed to sharp declines in UK oil production.
  • Increases in operating costs coupled with higher taxes have resulted in decreased investment in both brownfields and new exploration.
  • In March last year, the UK government outlined plans to encourage continued development of the oil and gas sectors because the latest trade statistics indicated that net energy imports rose to the highest level since the 1970s.
  • Last year, the UK consumed 1.5 million bpd of petroleum and other liquids.
  • In 2013, the transportation and industrial sectors accounted for over 90% of petroleum consumption.
  • Demand for middle distillates, in particular diesel and aviation fuel, has steadily increased in the UK.
  • The UK, despite declines, is still one of the largest petroleum producers and exporters in Europe, exporting 576 000 bpd of crude oil in 2012.
  • Data shows that the vast majority of crude oil exports were destined to EU countries, mainly Germany and The Netherlands.


  • DECC data shows that domestic UK refiners met 61% of demand for oil products in 2012.
  • The UK is a significant crude oil importer for its domestic refining sector, receiving just less than 1 million bpd last year.
  • At the end of 2013, the UK reportedly had 1.5 million bpd of refining capacity.
  • Essar operates the single largest refinery in the country, the 272 000 bpd Stanlow facility.
  • Refinery production last year dropped 5.2%, partly due to the closure of the Coryton refinery and partly due to other refinery disruptions.
  • UK refineries generally produce motor gasoline and residual fuel oil and cannot meet domestic demand for distillate fuel oil and aviation fuel.

Natural gas

  • Last year, natural gas production accounted for just over one third of the UK’s natural gas supply.
  • The natural gas sector is fully privatised, including production, transmission and distribution.
  • In 2013, the UK consumed 2.6 trillion ft3 of natural gas, a 1% drop from 2012 figures.
  • The UK became a net importer of natural gas in 2004.
  • The UK imported approximately 1.3 trillion ft3 of natural gas last year.
  • In 2011, the UK demand for LNG surpassed that of Spain for the first time, to become the largest LNG import market in the UK.
  • Currently, the UK has four LNG import terminals.

Adapted for web by Claira Lloyd

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