asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are his current estimates of the level of oil reserves in the United Kingdom continental shelf and his forecast of oil production in each year up to 1982.
Up-to-date estimates will be published next spring in my report to Parliament on the Development of the oil and gas resources of the United Kingdom"—the"Brown Book ". Current forecasting work which is still continuing suggests, however, that our total offshore oil reserves might lie in the range 2,300 million-4,200 million tonnes. The upper end of this range has been reduced to 4,200 million tonnes from the 4,500 million tonnes given in the 1978 Brown Book, to reflect the disappointing results of drilling in the Celtic Sea. The lower end of the range is not directly comparabe to the 3,000 million tonnes given in the 1978 Brown Book, largely because of a change in statistical presentation which reduces the lower end of the range to a point where it has the same probability as the upper end.There has been continuing slippage in the development of fields so that production before 1980 is likely to be lower, but production in the early 1980s is likely to be higher than forecast in the 1978 Brown Book; the forecast of net self-sufficiency in oil in 1980 is unchanged. Current indications are that production will lie within the following ranges—figures from the 1978 Brown Book: