UK Liquid Energy

titles_energy production_4

Written for the Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Energy, the Environment and Our Future’ by Pennsylvania State University (Jan 2014).

The United Kingdom has been extracting oil commercially from oil shale since 1851.  However, large scale extraction began more recently with discovery of the Montrose field in the North Sea in 1969.  In 2011, 1.043 million barrels per day of crude oil (51,972 thousand tonnes per year) was produced [1].

TABLE_UK Crude Oil 2011_UK Liquid Energy

According to the UK government statistics, Department of Energy and Climate Change, approximately two-thirds of UK crude used was produced in the UK.  The vast majority of imported crude oil came from our North Sea neighbour, Norway.

This is illustrated in the DECC chart below.

CHART_UK Oil Imports 1998-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Historically, the UK was a heavy importer of crude at the onset of major domestic production in 1970.  By the early 80’s, the UK was a net exporter of crude oil and remained so until 2005. Indigenous production has declined steadily since 2000.

These trends are illustrated in Figure 1, below.

CHART_UK CrudeOil 1970-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Figure 1: UK Crude Oil (1970-2011)

Refined petroleum products, are processed at one of the seven remaining refineries in the UK.  There were 18 refineries in operation in the late 70’s, but largely due to competition from refineries in the Middle East and Asia, many have closed down, two closed between 2009 and 2012 [2].

In 2011, almost 70 million tonnes (1.4 million barrels per day) of petroleum products were used in the UK.  The breakdown of products is listed in Table 2, below.  Transportation fuels constitute the bulk of liquid fuels used.

Table 2: UK Petroleum Products 2011[1]

Thousand Tonnes per Year Barrels per Day Percentage
Petrol (Gasoline) 13,890 297,030 20.0
Diesel 20,990 421,540 30.2
Aviation Fuel 11,570 232,430 16.7
Other Energy Use 15,770 316,740 22.7
Non-Energy Use 7,250 145,690 10.4
Total 69,490 1,395,430 100.0

The historical trends for UK Petroleum Usage between 1999 and 2011, is shown graphically in Figure 2 below.  The recent overall trend is downward.  There has been a constant reduction in petrol (gasoline) consumption for the past decade, with all other uses including diesel and aviation stable for the past 5 years.

CHART_UK Petroleum Products Use 1999-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Figure 2: UK Petroleum Products Usage (1999-2011)

When we examine the end user data, there is one super-user in the group, see Table 3 below.  Transportation accounted for nearly 80 percent of petroleum usage in 2011.  All other industry and commercial use, including agriculture was 16 percent and domestic non-transportation use accounted for almost 4 percent.

Table 3: UK Petroleum End Users 2011[1]

Thousand Tonnes per Year Barrels per Day Percentage
Electricity Generation 830 16,720 1.3
Other Energy Ind 4,450 89,440 7.2
Other Industries 4,080 81,950 6.6
Transport 48,680 977,690 78.9
Domestic 2,400 48,220 3.9
Agri, Commerce, etc 1,250 25,150 2.0
Total 61,710 1,239,160 100.0

Historically this is true also.  Figure 3 below, plots the numbers from 1999 to 2011.  Transportation fuel gas been the far greatest demand on petroleum in the UK for decades.  All other uses have remained fairly constant.

CHART_UK Petroleum End Users 1999-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Figure 3: UK Petroleum End Use (1999-2011)


[1]  Digest of UK Energy Statistics, UK Gov.

[2]  Deloitte report commissioned by DECC in 2010


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