UK liquids production was slightly lower m/m, at 1.00 mb/d in November, and fell y/y by 56 thousand b/d. UK output has now fallen y/y for three consecutive months, bringing year-to-November output lower y/y by 5 thousand b/d. The major outage during the month was a shutdown at the 0.14 mb/d Buzzard field on 19 November after the discovery of pipe corrosion, with the field offline until 17 December. Buzzard’s shutdown was exacerbated by the closure of the Elgin Franklin field for an unclear duration over November/December, and lower production of Flotta Gold. Buzzard’s outage meant Forties exports dropped from 0.33 mb/d in October to 0.22 mb/d in November, according to Kpler, before picking up only slightly to 0.26 mb/d in December. Scheduled loadings rebounded to 0.35 mb/d in January. The loss of Buzzard weighed on Forties differentials as it reduced the sulphur content of the stream, making it lighter and adding to the light crude glut. Overall, UK production disappointed in 2018, coming in broadly flat y/y, vs our early year expectations of 0.1 mb/d of growth. This was due to accelerating decline rates as well as unforeseen outages, particularly at Buzzard. But in a positive for UK production, the 0.12 mb/d Clair Ridge field was brought onstream in November and will boost production in 2019, when we expect UK output will be higher y/y by up to 0.1 mb/d.
UK oil demand grew by 13 thousand b/d y/y to 1.47 mb/d in October, with growth across much of the barrel offset by a 7 thousand b/d y/y contraction in diesel demand. Refinery runs gained by 54 thousand b/d y/y to 1.26 mb/d in October, the fourth consecutive month of y/y expansion. Nevertheless, in the year to October, runs were lower y/y by 50 thousand b/d due to heavy maintenance in H1 18 at refineries including Stanlow, Pembroke, Grangemouth and Humber.