A trade body representing the UK’s oil and gas industry has called for investment in new oil and gas fields as the country tries to eliminate net emissions in the next three decades.
Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said that the sector is ready to invest £21bn over the next five years to explore and produce hydrocarbons in the UK.
This would “protect the UK’s highly skilled offshore workforces whose knowledge of marine and energy engineering will be essential in the transition to renewable and low-carbon technologies”, the body said.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “Cutting back our greenhouse gas emissions will not be easy, but we will do it faster if we support the companies and people who have the skills to get us there.”
Between now and 2050, when the UK is meant to reduce emissions to net zero, half of all the country’s energy will need to come from oil and gas, OGUK said.
“We all know that change is needed so the question is how fast we make that change. This report shows the reality that cutting off the domestic production of oil and gas faster than we can reduce demand risks leaving us increasingly dependent on other countries that often generate higher emissions,” Ms Michie said.
She added: “A failure to invest in new oil and gas fields – to replace those in decline now – would mean the UK could meet only a third of its future needs, leaving the nation more reliant on imports.”
The government has committed to a net zero target by the middle of the century, but its official advisers on the Climate Change Committee have recognised that oil and gas will have to play a role even after 2050.
Gas powers the heating in around 85% of UK homes and produces more than a third of the UK’s electricity.
OGUK estimated that the country still gets around 73% of its total energy from oil and gas, with 70% of this being supplied from the UK’s oil and gas fields.