The UK’s Oil and Gas Authority has announced another round of licensing for exploration in 768 blocks of “the Central North Sea, Northern North Sea, Southern North Sea and the West of Shetlands.”
The UK Government sees the production of oil and gas as continuing to be important and this is the 32nd round of licensing.
Also on offer are additional blocks in adjacent areas, “for possible inclusion where applicants intend to commit to a substantial firm work programme.”
Environmental groups have reacted with disappointment given the recent declarations of a Climate Change Emergency.
Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“Licenses granted in this new oil and gas round will take us well beyond the point of climate breakdown.
“More interested in servicing corporate interests than protecting life on earth, the UK Government is planning to extract far more than its fair share of oil and gas, and the Scottish Government is fully behind this, despite its rhetoric of climate leadership.
“Real climate leadership means making tough decisions now to put us on a path to a climate safe future. Tackling the climate emergency means we must ban oil and gas exploration, and redirect the vast subsidies propping up fossil fuel extraction towards creating decent green jobs in a zero carbon economy.
“A Just Transition for workers and communities currently dependent on high carbon industries is an essential part of that.”
A new report: Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction, by Oil Change International, Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland has urged governments to concentrate on transitioning to a renewables energy future.
The report’s key findings:
• The UK’s 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already operating oil and gas fields will exceed the UK’s share in relation to the Paris climate goals – whereas industry and government aim to extract 20 billion barrels.
• The additional oil and gas extraction enabled by recent subsidies will add twice as much carbon to the atmosphere as the phase-out of coal power saves.
• Given the right policies, clean industries could create more than three jobs for every North Sea oil job at risk, which can enable an “equivalent job guarantee” for every oil worker.
The Scottish Government state:
“Oil and gas are vital to Scotland, accounting for around 90% of the country’s total primary energy in 2015. We see the sector continuing to play a significant role even as we decarbonise electricity generation in Scotland.”
The Oil and Gas Authority is responsible for licensing, the UK Government is responsible for the fiscal regime and regulation of the oil and gas industry and the Scottish Government is responsible for the skills and training policy for Scotland’s oil and gas industry.
The Sea Change Report has the following recommendations for both Governments :
- Stop issuing licenses and permits for new oil and gas exploration and development, and revoke undeveloped licenses
- Rapidly phase out all subsidies for oil and gas extraction, including tax breaks, and redirect them to fund a Just Transition
- Enable rapid building of the clean energy industry through fiscal and policy support to at least the extent they have provided to the oil industry, including inward investment in affected regions and communities
- Open formal consultations with trade unions to develop and implement a Just Transition strategy for oil-dependent regions and communities.
Decisions on the licenses will be made next year, 2020.