Oil giant Shell has vowed to be in the North Sea for decades to come.

Shell UK chairman Ed Daniels has said the major has no intention of winding down its presence in the province and is still investing £2billion a year in its North Sea operations.

He reportedly said Shell accounted for 14% of the oil produced in UK waters and predicted the country’s oil and gas industry had decades of life left in it.

Mr Daniels dismissed speculation major operators like Shell were not particularly interested in the North Sea.

He said the firm’s investments were 20-plus years in duration, according to reports, but added that the UK needed a stable tax regime to encourage further developments.

Although Mr Daniels said tax incentives introduced in the past two years had remedied the UK Government’s 2011 levy rise, he added that shock announcements could shorten the life of the North Sea.

“When you are investing for such a long period of time, if you don’t have the confidence in the stability of a taxation regime it just becomes impossible for you to make those long-term commitments which are absolutely critical for the vibrant investment we all want in the North Sea,” he said.

Shell operates 30 platforms, 30 subsea installations and one production vessel in the North Sea, but it also has significant stakes in developments west of Shetland which are expected to be on stream for 30 years or more.