HC Deb 12 February 2002 vol 380 c290W
Mr. Alan Reid

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how long UK(a) coal, (b) oil and (c) gas reserves are expected to last. [35608]

Mr. Wilson

In the Coal Authority's evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union on 12 November 2001, coal reserves at existing UK mines were assessed in 2001 at around 220 million tonnes, equivalent to about seven years of UK coal production at 2000 production rates. The evidence also said that there was a further known potential of 380 million tonnes and, in addition, currently unaccessed deep mine and opencast resources potentially provide many years of future production at present levels.

Detailed estimates of oil and gas reserves on the UK continental shelf are given in the Brown Book (Development of UK Oil and Gas Resources 2001). The extent to which these reserves might be produced depends on a number of factors, including prices and costs relative to other oil producing areas. It is therefore difficult to make accurate predictions, but if all the discovered reserves given in the Brown Book were to be developed they represent some 11 years of oil production and 14 years of gas production at rates seen in 2000. If in addition, estimates of as yet undiscovered reserves are also considered, UK oil reserves represent between 13 and 29 years of production and UK gas reserves represent between 17 and 29 years of production, although the upper estimates are unlikely. In practice, production levels will fall and reserves will last longer. Indeed, a Pilot target is to produce 3 Mboed (million barrels of oil equivalent per day) in 2010 against about 4.5 Mboed in 2000.