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North Sea struggles in a new era

Higher oil prices would help, but they won’t restore glory to an increasingly marginal play

UK North Sea projects coming on stream in 2017 will add fresh output, but this activity can't mask the underlying lack of upstream investment appetite. Even a firming of the oil price doesn't look likely to change this. The near-term outlook is more positive than it has been for some time. Both oil and, to a lesser extent, gas production were higher last year than the industry expected, and will lift output estimates for the next few years. But the overall trajectory is still downwards and output is already a fraction of its level 20 years ago. Meanwhile, seven North Sea projects should come online this year, adding around 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day as they ramp up. The project

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