UK offshore exploration and appraisal activity rose by 75% in the last quarter, according to a report released by accountancy and business advisory company Deloitte.
Deloitte’s North West Europe Review, which summarises drilling and licensing in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), revealed that a total of 28 exploration and appraisal wells were spudded in the third quarter of 2009.
The number represents a significant increase on the previous quarter but a 7% drop in drilling compared with the same period in 2008.
According to the report, about 32% of wells spudded were located in the West of Shetlands region, with a further 21% in the Moray Firth and 18% in the Northern North Sea.
The central North Sea contains 11% of new wells, with the southern North Sea accounting for only 7% of activity.
The rise in drilling activity in the Shetlands region, which historically accounts for less than 10% of UK exploration and appraisal wells, is partly attributed to the Stena Carron drilling programme, as well as extensive delineation and exploration projects in the area.
Senior partner for Deloitte in Aberdeen, Derek Henderson, said: “Looking ahead, it is hoped that the more secure financial markets, coupled with a consistent oil price, will have an overall positive effect on the exploration and appraisal activities in the UKCS."