The government’s new Energy Security Strategy must recognise the oil and gas sector’s importance for energy security as well as for the energy transition – and ensure the country’s future low-carbon infrastructure is built in the UK, according to the chief executive of Offshore Energies UK.
Prioritising the UK’s own companies and workers would support energy security today while also helping the nation’s engineering industries become world leaders in cleaner energies.
Without that support the industry will be undermined and leave the nation increasingly reliant on other countries.
The warning, from Deirdre Michie, chief executive of OEUK, comes as the UK government prepares to publish its Energy Security Strategy, expected tomorrow (Thursday April 7). OEUK is the trade body for 400 organisations involved in the production of oil and gas, the expansion of offshore wind and the development of mass hydrogen production plus carbon capture and storage.
The UK’s offshore sector supports about 195,000 jobs. Last year it provided 38% of the nation’s gas and the equivalent of 80% of its oil needs. The oil and gas resources around the UK are, however, in long term decline – a trend which coincides with the planned transition to net zero.
Michie said that the UK still relied on oil and gas for 75% of its total energy and so should maximise their recovery from domestic resources, while simultaneously expanding into low-carbon technologies.
She said: “We already have political consensus on the need for secure, reliable and clean supplies of energy. The UK government’s new energy security strategy will be a defining moment for how we achieve that goal.
“Do we make the most of our own resources and use these to provide energy security now and support the development of a homegrown low-carbon energy industry for the future?
“Or do we outsource the manufacturing and construction of our new energy infrastructure to other countries and import the billions of pounds worth of equipment needed? Both destinations reach net zero but outsourcing to other countries undermines our own companies and workers and reduces our energy security by making us more dependent on imports.
“Many companies involved in UK oil and gas are already expanding into offshore wind, creating the infrastructure for mass hydrogen production, and building carbon capture and storage systems. They have the expertise not just in engineering but also in financing and managing these huge projects.
“Those companies and their workforces are the bedrock on which the UK should build its new low carbon energy infrastructure. I want to remind politicians of all parties and countries that energy security is now national security and ask them to recognise the vital role that our oil and gas operators and supply chain play in providing energy now – and to support them as they evolve to build our low-carbon future.”