Thank you for taking the time to contact me about oil and gas licences.
As we have seen over the last year, global energy supplies have been disrupted and weaponised by the likes of Putin, causing household bills to soar and economic growth to slow around the world.
It is therefore essential that the UK has energy independence and security, and the Government is determined to safeguard our energy supply and power up Britain from Britain. As such, the Government is not only backing our oil and gas sector, but also investing in renewable energy and carbon capture.
The UK, like most major economies, is highly dependent on oil and gas and will be for decades to come. We get 75 per cent of our energy from oil and gas, and according to the Committee on Climate Change, oil and gas will still provide more than half of our energy needs in 2035, and 24 per cent of our energy needs even in a net zero 2050.
The Government remains firmly committed to its net zero target. However, oil and gas will be required in the transition to net zero, simply turning off the taps would mean we would have to import oil and gas, leaving us susceptible to global circumstances. Further, importing oil and gas harm our ambition to reach net zero. According to the North Sea Transition Authority, imported gas has a carbon footprint which is three times that of domestically produced gas.
For these reasons, as noted by the independent Climate Change Committee, the transition to non-fossil forms of energy cannot happen overnight. The Government faces the unprecedented task of transforming the UK’s energy infrastructure, including electricity generation, hydrogen production and energy networks among other areas.
The Government’s Energy Security Strategy sets out ambitious plans for how will achieve this transformation, whilst also ensuring the UK’s continued energy security.
The Government is therefore boosting our energy security by committing to hundreds of new oil and gas field licences in the North Sea, making sure we are not reliant on expensive, foreign imports. It is also investing in Carbon Capture and Storage, delivering on our net zero ambitions while creating 25,000 jobs and driving £10 billion of investment.
This will cut bills, cut emissions, and cut our dependence on foreign imports, safeguarding our long-term energy security, supporting families with the cost of living, and delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to grow the economy.
All 374 Marine Protected Areas in British waters are subject to planning and licensing regimes to ensure they are protected from harmful activities.
The Government has undertaken an Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment (OESEA4) of a draft plan for licensing and leasing areas for future offshore energy developments including offshore oil and gas, in relevant waters of the UK Continental Shelf. In advance of any licence award, a further Habitats Regulations and Marine Protected Area/Marine Conservation Zone Assessment will be undertaken.
Development proposals for offshore oil and gas are dealt with by the relevant regulators; the North Sea Transition Authority and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED). As part of the regulatory process, OPRED considers the Environmental Impact Assessment for development proposals to ensure the impact on the environment, especially marine protected areas.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP