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Public deal launched to help oil and gas sector make low carbon transition

Image credit: Dreamstime

The government has promised to support high-skilled oil and gas workers as the UK transitions to low carbon energy.

In a deal with the industry, it said it would support workers, businesses and the supply chain to help it transition to emerging technologies such as hydrogen production, carbon capture, offshore wind and decommissioning.

The extraction of oil and gas on the UK Continental Shelf is directly responsible for around 3.5 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Through the package of measures, the North Sea Transition Deal is expected to cut pollution by up to 60 million tonnes by 2030.

Key commitments in the deal include the sector setting early targets to reduce emissions by 10 per cent by 2025, 25 per cent by 2027 and 50 per cent by 2030.

The government said it will introduce a climate compatibility checkpoint by the end of 2021 that will see it only awarding oil and gas licences when aligned with wider climate objectives.

This checkpoint will use the latest evidence, looking at domestic demand for oil and gas; the sector’s projected production levels; the increasing prevalence of clean technologies such as offshore wind and carbon capture, and the sector’s continued progress against its ambitious emissions reduction targets.

From the end of March 2021, the UK will no longer provide financial support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas, fulfilling a pledge made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year.

Up to £16bn in public and private investment will be made available, including up to £3bn to replace fossil fuel-based power supplies on oil and gas platforms with renewable energy; up to £3bn on carbon capture, and up to £10bn for hydrogen production.

Kwasi Kwarteng, business and energy secretary said: “Today, we are sending a clear message around the world that the UK will be a nation of clean energy as we build back better and greener from the pandemic.

“We will not leave oil and gas workers behind in the United Kingdom’s irreversible shift away from fossil fuels. Through this landmark sector deal, we will harness the skills, capabilities and pent-up private investment potential of the oil and gas sector to power the green industrial revolution, turning its focus to the next-generation clean technologies the UK needs to support a green economy.

“At every step on the path to net-zero emissions, we will create the right conditions for new green industries to base themselves in the UK and create new high-value employment opportunities, while future-proofing existing businesses to secure the long-term viability of jobs in our industrial heartlands.”

The new deal comes at odds with the decision in January not to intervene in the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years, despite Kwarteng admitting there is a “slight tension” between the project and the UK’s climate goals.

Earlier this month, following strong backlash from the public and environmental campaigners, the government finally said it would look again at the controversial application.

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