Offshore Energies UK CEO

Letter to Northern Mayors


NORTHERN MAYORS URGED TO MEET WITH UK OFFSHORE ENERGY LEADERS

The leading representative body for the UK offshore energy industry has urged Northern Mayors to meet with industry leaders and listen to the views of its workforce to inform their views. 

The call comes after the group issued a coordinated letter on Friday calling for government to drop the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill. 

OEUK Chief Executive David Whitehouse has today written an open letter in response to group, raising concerns lessons have not been learned from the unmanaged deindustrialisation of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and Tyneside.  

In his letter to the Northern Mayors issued this morning, as the Bill begins its second reading in the House of Commons, Mr Whitehouse said: 

“Some strongly protest that anyone with an oil and gas heritage has no place in this conversation. I disagree. The reality is that the path to successfully delivering on our climate goals, whilst also creating high value jobs in communities up and down the country is by pulling people together, not by excluding companies and the 2200,000 skilled workforce at the heart of UK plc.  

“Representatives and candidates may thrive on opposition and argument, particularly in an election year, but big engineering projects only succeed through collaboration. The transition to net zero will be the biggest engineering project this country has ever seen. It will fail if we undermine the industries, workforces and communities whose skills will be vital for building our energy future. 

“It is a concern that recent announcements from Grangemouth and Port Talbot may be indications that we are not getting this right. We are at risk of shedding jobs, increasing imports, undermining our key sectors so we are unable to take the opportunities of the energy transition. Getting it wrong will have implications for every part of our country.  

“Lessons learned from the unmanaged deindustrialisation in your areas of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and Tyneside must be learned by industries and policy makers. A successful energy transition is one that delivers jobs and wealth by working with our present industries, which are the platform for our greener future. 

“Your voices will shape help the future direction of country. I would welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss how the path to a green industrial future is through all sectors working collaboratively together.” 

“It’s disappointing that this influential group have put their names to seemingly coordinated letters without any meaningful engagement with the sector. We are a proud industry with a great story to tell and great ambition for the nation’s future. With the right support, the 200,000 people working in the UK offshore energy sector will unlock a green industrial future which benefits every part of the UK. Recent announcements from Grangemouth and Port Talbot may be indications that we’re not getting the transition to this future right and so we need assurances that this serious challenge is being given serious consideration by everyone in Labour. Our future and our people are too important to be sacrificed for the sake of gesture politics.”  

The full text of the letter sent to Northern Mayors can be found below:



22 January 2024

Dear Mayors, 

Following your interventions on the upcoming Offshore licencing Bill, I am writing to you on behalf of the over 400 companies and 220,000 people who work in the UK offshore energy sector to ask for a meeting with you. 

I believe it is important that we support the skilled people working in the sector and deliver a managed energy transition. We need to cherish our industrial jobs and use our industrial strengths as the platform for a green industrial revolution. To conflate these two issues is misleading. The decarbonisation of our economy is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and also our greatest opportunity to deliver the sustainable economy the country needs. Prioritising an energy transition which is homegrown will drive growth, support jobs, and deliver reliable supplies of cleaner energy in the UK. 

Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require major changes to every industry, region, and part of our society. Today, approximately 75% of the UK’s total energy requirements are derived from oil and gas, and we produce approximately 50% of that demand domestically from the North Sea.  

The gas that we produce is used to heat over 24 million homes that currently rely on gas boilers for heat and hot water. The oil that we produce provides billions of pounds of value in our economy to supporting communities up and down the country and providing taxes to support our critical public services. Our sector generates over £1.2 billion in GVA across your regions and supports over 220,000 decent skilled jobs nationwide, the very skills we need for the industries of the future.  

Our journey to net zero presents key choices: We can choose to get there by making the most of our people, skills, and heritage, or we can choose to increasingly rely on others to help us get there.  

We all recognise that our energy mix must change, and our sector is in action to drive change, but the reality is even working together to ramp up renewable power, that the journey will take time. While we continue to use oil and gas, surely, we should prioritise our homegrown production to support our energy security, our economy, our jobs, and our world-class supply chain, which can be the foundation of our low-carbon future. Our North Sea basin is declining; today we have over 280 oil and gas fields but by the end of the decade 180 of them will have stopped producing due to natural decline. We need the churn of new licences, not to grow production but simply to manage the decline of our production and allow an orderly transition that supports jobs and communities up and down the country and meets our energy needs.  

Many companies investing in opportunities like floating offshore wind, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen will continue to require the cash flow from a stable and predictable oil and gas business to fund these opportunities. The fact is we need both oil and gas and renewables in an integrated system to protect the UK’s energy to deliver a successful energy transition. These companies are in action in all of your regions. 

The opportunities in the UK energy sector to transform how we power our society are inspiring. We need to attract the next generation. Our sector is in action, working collaboratively to develop a skills passport that will enable career paths across the energy sectors. Our sector is committed to setting the gold standard for diversity and inclusion.  

Some strongly protest that anyone with an oil and gas heritage has no place in this conversation. I disagree. The reality is that the path to successfully delivering on our climate goals, whilst also creating high value jobs in communities up and down the country, is by pulling people together, not by excluding companies and the 200,000 skilled workforce at the heart of UK plc.  

Representatives and candidates may thrive on opposition and argument, particularly in an election year, but big engineering projects only succeed through collaboration. The transition to net zero will be the biggest engineering project this country has ever seen. It will fail if we undermine the industries, workforces, and communities whose skills will be vital for building our energy future. 

It is a concern that recent announcements from Grangemouth and Port Talbot may be indications that we are not getting this right. We are at risk of shedding jobs, increasing imports, undermining our key sectors so we are unable to take the opportunities of the energy transition. Getting it wrong will have implications for every part of our country.  

Lessons learned from the unmanaged deindustrialisation in your areas of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, and Tyneside must be learned by industries and policy makers. 

A successful energy transition is one that delivers jobs and wealth by working with our present industries, which are the platform for our greener future. 

Your voices will help shape the future direction of our country. I would welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss how the path to a green industrial future is through all sectors working collaboratively together. Please take time to listen to the voice of those working in the offshore energy sector to inform your views.  

A successful energy transition is one that is delivered with people and communities, not done to people and communities. 

Support our homegrown energy workforce over imports and choose to deliver a successful homegrown energy transition. 

Yours sincerely  

David Whitehouse  

Chief Executive 


OEUK is the leading trade body for the UK’s integrating offshore energies industry. Our membership includes over 400 organisations with an interest in offshore oil, gas, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and wind. From operators to the supply chain and across the lifecycle from production to decommissioning, they are safely providing cleaner fuel, power and products to the UK. Working together with our members, we are a driving force supporting the UK in ensuring security of energy supply while helping to meet its net zero ambitions.

We work on behalf of the sector and our members to inform understanding with facts, evidence and data, engage on a range of key issues and support the broader value of this industry in a changing energy landscape.

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