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Companies need to invest up to £330bn to extract oil and gas from UK waters over the next 30 years.

Offshore fields in the North Sea have produced in excess of 43 billion barrels since the 1970s.

Based on economic modelling, a study by researchers at Aberdeen University noted that North Sea fields could contain 17 billion barrels of oil or the equivalent gas still to be extracted.

“The claim on the resources of the supply chain or the related opportunities remains very substantial.”

The researchers, Professor Alex Kemp and Dr Linda Stephen, applied new data to their economic modelling of the sector and determined that the targets set by the industry, government and the Oil and Gas Authority can be achieved.

However, the targets can be realised based on favourable conditions, including price, cost, funding and technical progress.

Current levels of drilling and successful exploration also have to be maintained to achieve the targets.

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By GlobalData

The economic model envisages a £158bn investment on the development of offshore fields, as well as an additional £172bn on operations and production from the fields.

Under this model, decommissioning costs would amount to £55bn.

The study said: “When decommissioning expenditures are added to the development and operating costs, the aggregate exceeds recent levels for a few years, then declines at a modest but persistent rate to around £6bn in 2050. The claim on the resources of the supply chain or the related opportunities remains very substantial.”

The model is based on the assumption of an oil price of $70 per barrel and gas price of 60p a therm.