CU was right to remind all us oil consumers, merrily watching the price cratering, that there is UK industry at stake in all this: and as 'Suffragent' said in the comments (previous post), there is an accelerator-factor at work. The development of small fields depends heavily on their being able to blister onto the infrastructure already built for (and paid for by) much larger, older fields. If the latter fall off the perch sooner, the former rapidy become uneconomic at any price.
It just occurred to me, as price and UK production fall, there may be another sector at risk.
That 70% of the world's crude (and maybe an even higher proportion of oil forward and futures) is denominated relative to 'Brent' is one of those miracles of the City of London that are easily forgotten. As 'price marker' for so much global oil, the Brent field in the North Sea is way, way past its prime, and 'Brent' oil has been a blend from several fields for decades now. When that blend started to decline in volume, output from the mighty Forties complex was included in nominal 'Brent'; and when that in turn started waning beyond the point where physical delivery could readily be made available to any forward-market punter who actually wanted some (a tiny minority, to be sure, but the principle is important), two major Norwegian blend were enlisted. And still it declines.
It so happens that Brent's one-time deadly rival, WTI of the USA, has been in dreadful trouble for several years, and has completely lost it as regards being of global significance. (We looked at this ages ago; and at Alphaville they once talked of little else.) But there are other would-be rivals: it has always irked the Arabs and the Russians that Brent dominates their vast output: and there are plenty of trading folk in the Far East who reckon they merit a crack at the lucrative oil sector.
So the vast and valuable Brent-based London oil market needs to have a care. Last time we worried about this, it was market integrity that exercised us. It has to be said, however, that a never-to-be reversed collapse in North Sea production (UK, and in due course Norway + Denmark) couldn't help the cause one bit.
The chaps in the City don't need me to tell the all this. Given that further decline in output was inevitable, they will have contingency plans. Hopefully, they are good enough to cater for a rather unexpected acceleration in the process.