Natural gas production from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) could recover and reduce Britain's reliance on imports, according to National Grid.
Speaking at a conference in London on Thursday, Simon Durk, gas supply manager at National Grid, said new production from the West of Shetland region, in addition to supply coming online from smaller fields, will buoy the UKCS recovery leading to a small "renaissance" in production.
National Grid projects that natural gas production would rise whether or not the UK meets its carbon emission reduction targets by 20150.
The rise would start now and last until 2018, followed by a gradual decline until 2015, when the forecast ends.
If the UK hits its carbon targets - modelled under the Gone Green scenario - production would hit approximately 38bcm/year in 2017.
If the targets are missed, production rates would reach 39bcm in 2018.
This compares with production rates in 2012 of roughly 30bcm/year.
The post-2018 fall in production is expected to be far more rapid in the Gone Green scenario, as renewable energy sources would be expected to pick up the slack.
The UK government has in recent months taken a number of measures to boost activity in the UKCS.The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a review to address challenges of oil and gas production at the UKCS last June (see ESGM 10 June 2013), while in May new tax allowances were announced to promote investment (see ESGM 15 May 2013). Jack Elliott