UK’s oil and gas sector commits to halving operation emissions by 2030

The organisation notes there are likely to be some difficulties in balancing ‘what is currently technically feasible and what is commercially feasible’

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The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has committed to halving operational emissions in the next decade, as part of plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Industry body Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has published a new report outlining how these bold targets will be achieved and notes the industry is currently discussing a “transformational sector deal” with the UK Government to calculate how the UK’s oil and gas industry can support a green recovery while supporting jobs, the supply chain and wider energy communities.

The sector aims to accelerate the decarbonisation progress through changes to operations, progressive reductions in flaring and venting and capital investment programmes aimed at electrifying the power supply of offshore infrastructure such as oil rigs.

The target would have roughly the same effect as removing nearly two million cars from the road but the organisation notes there are likely to be some difficulties in balancing “what is currently technically feasible and what is commercially feasible” – more than half and potentially as much as two-thirds of the emissions reduction across the next decade would likely come from fields ceasing production.

OGUK says the sector has valuable skills and infrastructure to offer to other parts of the energy industry in the form of “critical” carbon-cutting solutions such as industrial-scale Carbon Capture Usage and Storage, and the use of hydrogen to decarbonise heating and heavy transport.

OGUK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie OBE said: “The coronavirus pandemic and low oil and gas prices have had a devastating impact on the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry. Given the limited impact that the severity of the lockdown has had on global emissions, it is clearer than ever that we need a fair, inclusive, and sustainable transition towards climate targets. We need a green recovery which supports jobs, supply chain companies and energy communities.

“We remain committed to addressing the challenge of climate change, as we outlined in our Roadmap 2035 published last year. Our industry will play its part by reducing its emissions and using its skills to develop the solutions that will be needed to make a significant contribution to the UK’s overall targets.

“A transformational sector deal could help unlock the full potential of this industry to support a green recovery and we’re delighted to confirm that we are now in formal discussions about it. With a clear pathway to becoming a net zero basin by 2050 and with support from governments and regulators, we can protect domestic energy supplies, jobs and communities whilst embracing the opportunities which will come from being at the forefront of delivering a low carbon economy.”

UK Government Minister for Energy Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The offshore oil and gas sector’s commitment to halving operational emissions over the next decade is a welcome step for an industry that has a vital role to play in our energy transition in the years to come. The UK Government will continue to work tirelessly with all partners to deliver a dynamic Sector Deal. This will further support the industry in becoming more sustainable, as we work towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”