OEUK: politicians should “choose words carefully” before abandoning North Sea oil and gas investments

World Oil Staff January 19, 2023

(WO) — Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), which represents the UK’s offshore industry, covering gas, oil, offshore wind and emerging low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen production and CO2 capture and storage, said policymakers should choose their words carefully. Many of its 400 members are leading the UK’s transition to greener energy systems.

Jenny Stanning, Offshore Energies UK’s external relations director, said, “Keir Starmer’s suggestion today, at Davos, that there should be no further investment in North Sea oil and gas will be deeply upsetting to the many workers and communities dedicated to providing the UK with energy. It will also further damage investor confidence.

“Those communities, whether in the northeast of Scotland or England’s energy coast, from Norfolk to the Scottish borders, have been central to the UK’s energy security for five decades – and especially in the last year’s energy crisis.”

UK’s energy industry contributes to the energy transition

“We all know that the UK must transition to low carbon energies as fast as possible. Our industry has pledged to work with the UK’s governments to reach net zero by 2050. But, in the three decades ‘till then, we will need gas and oil,” said Stanning.

According to Stanning, roughly 24 million homes use gas boilers for heat. 42% of the UK’s electricity also comes from gas. In addition, 32 million vehicles run on petrol or diesel.

The UK’s energy companies producing oil and gas also invest in the energy transition, says Stanning. The Office for Budget Responsibility prices the energy transition at $1.52 trillion by 2050, $1.52 trillion of which will come from private investors.  

OEUK members are already building offshore wind farms, carbon capture and storage systems and hydrogen production facilities to power the UK. Stanning reminded policymakers that the Labour Party and energy companies must work together to achieve their common goal.

“We have an obligation to warn all policymakers that, if you undermine those companies now, and send the sector’s 200,000 skilled workers into other industries, you will damage both the nation’s current energy security and our hopes of a rapid transition to low-carbon energies.

“So, policymakers need to remember that words have consequences. Only this week we heard that another major North Sea operatory is winding down UK investment. This damage must stop and that means we need to find a compromise – a pathway we can all agree on, and which is practical for the country. We will be actively seeking those discussions,” concluded Stanning.

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