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‘This is the decade of delivery, not complacency’ – oil and gas industry delivers emissions goal, but real challenge lies ahead

5 September 2023

Figures released today (5 September) show that UK North Sea emissions are down three years in a row.

Last year’s 3% reduction contributed to a 23% drop in greenhouse gas emissions between 2018 and 2022, according to the latest Emissions Monitoring Report from the North Sea Transition Authority.

The reductions are in line with the sector’s ambitious commitments under the North Sea Transition Deal, in which the industry committed to reduce emissions 10% by 2025, 25% by 2027, 50% by 2030, and net zero in 2050.

Most of the UK sector’s emissions come from generating the energy needed to power offshore installations, including safety systems, plus electricity and heat for the workforce.

Electrification, where installations are powered by electricity from renewables instead of oil and gas, will be a key factor in reducing such emissions – but operational changes made by companies so far have meant the industry has now surpassed its 2025 emissions target three years earlier than expected.

OEUK sustainability and policy director Mike Tholen said:

“By the mid-2030s, oil and gas will still provide 50 per cent of our energy needs. Putin’s war in Ukraine has shown the risk of relying on other countries for energy, and domestic production on average is four times cleaner than imported LNG. The UK’s homes and businesses cannot yet do without these fuels.

“That is why it’s vital our North Sea reserves are produced as sustainably as possible, so we can continue to protect the nation’s energy security while reducing our carbon footprint and building the low carbon energies of the future.

“The emissions progress announced today is a clear indicator that the UK offshore oil and gas industry is committed to its mission, already surpassing its 2025 goal of a 10% reduction. “But this is the decade of delivery, not complacency. Our challenge now is to ensure the energy sector receives enough investment and the right long-term energy policy to significantly scale-up the solutions needed to meet the real challenge ahead; halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050.”

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