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In 1979 the rise of oil prices and the threat to oil supplies from traditional Middle East sources caused an increase in development of known hydrocarbon resources in Europe. Oil production increased by 30% over the 1978 figure. The major share of the increase came from the North Sea, the Spanish Gulf of Valencia, and northern Italy as the discoveries of the 1970s were brought on stream. Vigorous appraisal and development drilling programs and new discoveries--Statoil/Shell's 31/2-1A gas discovery in the Norwegian North Sea may prove to be another "giant"--will ensure that production increases in these areas will continue into the 1980s. Tertiary recovery and new fracturing techniques enabled increased output from some existing fields.
Exploration activity moved into high-cost and high-risk areas. Increased geologic knowledge obtained through recent offshore drilling, together with the application of new seismic techniques, has enabled the definition of deeper and more subtle traps. There was successful wildcat drilling of new plays in the producing offshore areas of the North Sea and the Italian Adriatic and also in many of the traditional onshore hydrocarbon producing areas of Europe, West Germany, Austria, France, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Several of these onshore areas suffered a drop in production levels in 1979.
Seismic exploration and licensing awards were made in undrilled remote, often deep-water, and even hostile environments as well as in the less well-explored offshore areas where earlier drilling had given promising results. Results of wildcat drilling were not always released but BP's 26/28-1 discovery in the deep-water Porcupine Trough appears to be a major find.
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