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Press Release21st Oct 2021

New report says UK oil and gas industry can lead the way to a low carbon future

Technologies pioneered by the UK’s offshore industry are essential for Net Zero, says OGUK report 

  • UK oil and gas industry will enable 100m tonnes of CO2 to be stored annually by 2050
  • Follows a 10% reduction in industry emissions since 2018
  • Industry low carbon plan could unlock 40,000 jobs in energy communities across UK

The UK could be storing 100 million tonnes of CO2 a year under its surrounding seabed by 2050 – equivalent to a quarter of its current annual emissions, according to a report from OGUK, which represents the nation’s offshore oil and gas industry.

OGUK’s Energy Transition Outlook report will say that carbon capture and storage systems already in development will cut the industry’s own emissions and enable many other heavy industries to decarbonise, including power stations, cement and steel makers, and chemical manufacturers.

The report will say that the rock formations under the North Sea and east Irish Sea have the capacity to hold much more CO2, with a total capacity of 78 billion tonnes. This is about 190 times greater than the UK’s own annual emissions of 400 million tonnes.

It will add: “This … creates the opportunity for annual storage of at least 100 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2050. This will require at least 5 billion tonnes of cumulative CO2 storage capacity to be developed from the total potential of 78 billion tonnes.”

The OGUK report will confirm the sector’s own emissions have fallen by 10% (1.8 million tonnes) since 2018 and are on track to achieve its target of a 50% cut by 2030.

It follows the publication this week of the government’s Net Zero Strategy which says that carbon capture and storage, linked with mass production of low-carbon hydrogen, will be essential if the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets.

Hydrogen is a highly versatile fuel which can replace natural gas in boilers and cookers or be used to power lorries and other heavy vehicles for which batteries are impractical. By 2050 hydrogen could comprise 20-35% of UK final energy consumption, the government’s strategy suggests.

Such a system would involve splitting natural gas to give hydrogen plus CO2. The hydrogen could be piped into homes and businesses or transported to fuel depots, while the CO2 would be permanently stored in the UK’s new offshore CO2 repositories.

The OGUK report will say: “The oil and gas sector has unique experience in implementing and operating large offshore infrastructure projects. This ability and understanding is key for the success of carbon capture and storage.”

It will also say that the UK’s oil and gas industry can lead the development of both technologies: “Hydrogen is an important technology opportunity for the UK and is required at scale to achieve national decarbonisation objectives.”

Commenting on the report, Mike Tholen, OGUK’s sustainability director, said: 

“The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry is changing. Our members are breaking ground today on projects and technologies that will revolutionise the UK’s energy systems. Those technologies will remove greenhouse gases, increase our energy security and resilience, and help meet the UK’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

“They will also create jobs. It means that people from Liverpool to Hull and from Shetland to Southampton could benefit economically from achieving net zero.

“Our report also shows, however, that these new technologies will need long-term support and investment, especially in their early years. That means support in both terms of overall policy and in the way they are financed. This is a project that will take some years, but it is also one that will help secure our nation’s low carbon future.”


The report can be downloaded here.