Former ministers unite to support oil and gas
A cross-party group of former Government Ministers have called for the Westminster and Scottish Governments to give their full support to the UK’s oil and gas industry as part of the energy transition.
In an unprecedented move, the five senior politicians have come together to sign a non-partisan Declaration setting out a series of shared beliefs on the future of the UK energy industry.
They say the oil and gas has a vital role to play in the journey to Net Zero and the Declaration urges ministers to give the industry its full backing as it transitions to a cleaner energy mix.
The signatories are: Fergus Ewing (SNP), Amber Rudd (Conservative), Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrats), Brian Wilson (Labour) and Charles Hendry (Conservative).
The Declaration was signed in Aberdeen in recognition of the city’s importance as a global energy hub with world-renowned skills in offshore oil and gas.
Research conducted by the industry trade body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) last year found that the oil and gas industry contributed £18.2bn Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy of North East Scotland, providing jobs for 64,000 people in the region.
Across the whole of Scotland, the sector created a total of 71,500 jobs and generated £19.4bn in GVA for Scotland – the equivalent to around 12% of Scotland’s GDP.
The Declaration urges that: “All Governments in the UK should work together so that the complex regulatory landscape is capable of jointly and swiftly responding and enabling industry to deliver net-zero and, in particular, clean power to platforms and carbon capture storage.”
The full text of the Declaration:
North Sea and Net Zero – a Common Cause
We, Fergus Ewing, Amber Rudd, Alistair Carmichael, Brian Wilson and Charles Hendry come from different parties with different objectives for Scotland and the UK and have each formerly served as Ministers in Government in Scotland and the UK.
We meet today, in Aberdeen, to sign this declaration, on a non-partisan and a cross and indeed non-party basis, and to set out in this declaration, and announce, a series of shared beliefs as to the best future of the oil and gas sector and the whole wider energy sector in Scotland and the UK.
We therefore jointly declare that:
- Our oil and gas sector developed since the 1970s, and its businesses, workforce and infrastructure (the re-purposing of which greatly facilitates a number of the carbon storage projects) are of world class and constitute a huge asset to these islands;
- The sector deserves the full support of all Governments in the UK as an essential contributor to the achievement of net zero targets;
- We support objectives to reach “net zero” on target of 2045 for Scotland and 2050 for England;
- We believe the continued benefit of the skills, expertise and experience developed in the North Sea are essential if that is to be achieved;
- We support the paramount importance in the current and future operations of the industry, of the safety of the workforce in the North Sea and that the lessons from past tragedies are never forgotten, mindful of the words of Lord Cullen, following the Macondo disaster: “They forgot to be afraid”.
- In particular, carbon capture and storage (CCS) presents an enormous opportunity for Scotland and the UK as an industry without whose successful development, net zero targets cannot be achieved; and that the oil and gas sector has the necessary supply chain ‘reach’, the experience, skills and expertise, to enable us to deliver carbon capture storage;
- Further offshore wind development can, and should, be used, alongside other innovative, new techniques to power and thus “clean” the operational activity of new, and where possible existing, platforms/installations in providing renewable energy to power operational activities; thus, making oil and gas produced from the UK Continental Shelf as non-carbon intensive as practically and economically possible;
- With 40% of Europe’s depleted oil and gas fields, Scotland and the UK, alongside Norway, have the capacity to use these aquifers as the principal carbon store for Scotland and the UK for decades ahead and indeed the rest of this century, in order to deliver an effective solution to achieve net zero. This also opens up the opportunity for the decarbonisation of large-scale industrial complexes such as the Phillips 66 refinery through Humber Zero.
- The North Sea Transition Deal deserves full support, and all practical steps be taken by the industry, its workforce, alongside Governments and their agencies working as one team, in order to deliver its aims as swiftly as possible;
- For these aims to be delivered, the skills, expertise and experience of the oil and gas sector are essential and Scotland, and the UK, have the potential to be a world leader in producing cleaner energy from oil and gas fields. “Exporting” these new skills and techniques to other oil producing regions and countries, as we have already done for the past several decades in oil and gas production techniques, has resulted with accelerating the decarbonisation and decommissioning of more carbon intensive oil and gas produced elsewhere in the world.
- An orderly transition is essential for cost-effective- decommissioning. Without an orderly transition, the costs will increase by many billions of pounds at the expense of the exchequer/taxpayer who pick up c. 40% of the total;
- We further agree, in order to ensure the continuance of a thriving oil and gas sector, and the skills inherent within it necessary to deliver net zero technologies, we support continued exploration and development of UK oil and gas, consistent with UK decarbonisation targets;
- Finally, we have no interest in making any partisan or party-political statements or in criticising any individuals. Indeed, we are making this declaration today for the express purpose of its constituting a constructive contribution to the vital debate on the energy future of Scotland and the UK.
To these ends we encourage and urge the following:
- The Scottish Government in its forthcoming energy strategy support our oil and gas sector to provide a global lead to the process of decarbonisation of their operations, and recognise its continued success as an essential prerequisite of achieving net zero emission targets, for the reasons set out above; thus, providing full support to the sector for its continued operations over the duration of the just transition in line with the North Sea Transition Deal, with emissions to be halved by 2030.
- The UK Government should further accelerate its efforts to promote carbon capture storage and, in particular, the delivery of the ACORN project as well as delivery of the two existing, already approved, projects namely the HyNet project in North West England and the East Coast Cluster in Teesside and Humber;
- All Governments in the UK should work together so that the complex regulatory landscape is capable of jointly and swiftly responding and enabling industry to deliver net-zero and, in particular, clean power to platforms and carbon capture storage;