Numerous news sources are busy celebrating the planned development of the new Catcher oil field in the North Sea. But few of them put it in context, with even the BBC describing it as "a major North Sea field", saying it could ultimately produce 100 million barrels of oil, and other sources mention a peak production of 50,000 barrels per day. These sound like big numbers, but let's compare to the real major oil field of the North Sea - Forties.
Forties is expected to produce over 4 billion barrels during its operational lifetime, and reached a peak output of 520,000 barrels per day in 1978. So that's forty times bigger than the Catcher field, and ten times the peak output. Catcher doesn't look so big now, does it?
Let's also compare it to our current oil production: 925,000 barrels per day, and our oil consumption of 1.5 million barrels per day. So it's basically going to produce 3.3% of our national consumption. Great, that'll make a huge difference... not.
Peak oil is still alive and well, and the IEA's recent report showed that over 80% of investment in energy oil and gas is just to make up for declining production from existing fields. So don't expect to see cheaper petrol or diesel any time soon. Or ever, in fact.
Image: "PlatformHolly" by employee of the U.S. government: public domain - http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/Petroleum/projects/EP/ResChar/15127Venoco.htm -- U.S. Department of Energy. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.