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North Sea - comeback basin?

Thanks to the innovation of independent producers, predictions of the UK North Sea's death may be premature

From time to time over the past two years - with oil prices in freefall and the majors taking a hatchet to capital spending - it looked like things might finally be over for the UK's North Sea. But independents stepped in to pick up the slack, leaving the big players to refocus on the largest remaining plays. That pattern will continue in 2017. Independents - emboldened by rising production and falling costs - will continue to pick up assets sloughed off by the majors. Production costs have fallen from around $35 a barrel in recent years to around $15/b, with services companies and their workers - predictably enough - taking the most pain, as operators mine their contracts for cost savings.

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