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New chapter for North Sea

Dr. Andy Samuel, Oil and Gas Authority's Chief Executive, welcomes the North Sea Transition Deal and how the oil and gas industry can play its part in tackling the climate emergency...

'The impact of the climate emergency is ever more visible. How we transition our energy systems – and the pace of change are of vital importance.

Many think of the energy transition to net zero, as simply ‘the move from fossil fuels to renewables’. In reality it is more complex, with interdependencies between the two while alternative energies ramp up to scale.

I welcome the government’s announcement of a transformational North Sea Transition Deal; the culmination of a considerable amount of work between government, industry and the OGA.

It puts the onus on industry to go further and faster to support the UK’s net zero target. The deal reflects the role we see for industry as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and our updated Strategy. The deal embodies the three main principles that we believe are vital to a successful energy transition.

Firstly, the importance of meeting our energy needs, cleanly. Oil and gas currently provide around three quarters of the UK’s energy consumption, with government forecasting them to remain important to the energy mix for the foreseeable future. It’s without question however that existing and future production must be cleaner. We are holding industry to account on their commitment to halving their production emissions by 2030 and becoming net zero by 2050. We have already seen a 22% reduction in flaring volumes in the last year, but there is a lot more to do.

We’ve brought together industry and the power sector, strongly advocating for the widespread electrification of offshore platforms in the North Sea which will not only help reduce emissions, but potentially support floating offshore wind capacity at scale.  

Secondly, the deal recognises that oil and gas - with the capital, expertise, infrastructure and supply chain - is crucial to progressing game-changing alternative energies such as floating offshore wind and hydrogen, as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The vital role of energy regulators in helping the UK achieve net zero was highlighted in the government’s Energy White Paper. We have been working ever closer with fellow regulators to identify and unlock the value of energy integration. We identified the incredible opportunity to contribute up to 60% of the UK’s net zero abatement through a mix of platform electrification, CCS, hydrogen production and offshore wind.

We are supporting around 30 energy integration projects at various stages. The government’s announcement of a new cross-regulator senior implementation group is timely. This should accelerate the next phase of our joint project as we streamline the regulatory landscape and drive forward this new mix of energy opportunities, with an aligned set of priorities.

Thirdly, the deal recognises that for the 270,000 or so UK jobs currently dependent on oil and gas, a fair and orderly transition is required to ensure people and communities are not left behind. It was good to see funding committed to the establishment of the Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone and a Global Underwater Hub. These should safeguard jobs in the sector, anchor our world-class subsea expertise in the region and create new skilled jobs and opportunities.

This agreement provides a solid platform for a just transition to net zero. In line with the government’s Build Back Greener agenda, it clearly signposts how central energy transition is to the government’s thinking, in terms of economic recovery and in the run up to COP26. The deal, and the commitment to climate-compatible future licensing rounds, should provide confidence for investors along with the many thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the North Sea.'

 

Dr Andy Samuel, OGA Chief Executive

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