UKOOG response to the Climate Change Committee’s assessment on the compatibility of onshore oil and gas with the UK’s net zero target
31st March 2021
In response to the Climate Change Committee's (CCC) positive assessment of the onshore oil and gas sector and its continued suitability under our national net zero targets*, Charles McAllister, Policy Manager at UK Onshore Oil and Gas, commented:
"For a number of years we have stressed the important role the onshore oil and gas industry can play in helping to reduce UK emissions, and it is pleasing to see that the CCC have stated that UK shale gas production could save up to 11.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in the year 2035 alone. Based on UKOOG's analysis of the shortfall between supply and demand using the same method as the CCC, the failure to develop onshore natural gas resources in the UK will add up to 145 million tonnes CO2e to the UK's fuel supply carbon footprint by 2050.
"The trend of increasingly importing oil and gas on super-tankers from nations far away from UK shores, generating four times the emissions of our own indigenous resource before it reaches its UK port, has gone on for too long without national scrutiny. Despite COVID-19 induced reductions in UK gas demand for 2020, imports of LNG increased by 5% from 2019 and represented a near record 42% of total gas imports. In volume terms, the UK imported nearly 55 times as much LNG from the shale fields of the USA in 2020 compared to 2017. There is a huge opportunity to reduce the UK's global carbon footprint through domestic production and as we move closer to 2050, we are delighted that the CCC have recognised and detailed the shortfall between the supply of, and demand for, oil and gas which our own onshore resources can address.
"Similarly, we are pleased that the CCC have also noted that higher resource recovery per well offers environmental as well as economic benefits. Techniques such as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', can help make this a reality. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should now take steps to work closely with the onshore industry and the regulator to resolve in a timely manner the questions that led to the moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing in England and realise the potential emissions savings outlined in this letter.
"Giving too much weight to the argument that any 'new UK production' could increase global emissions has negative implications for our indigenous offshore oil and gas sector, whose resources similarly have a production emissions value a fraction of that of its Qatari or Russian imported equivalents. Likewise, the same argument could be used to discourage agricultural and other industrial growth domestically despite the clear benefits of UK-based development. The CCC have stated on a number of occasions that policy which incentivises the offshoring of domestic industry is bad for both the environment and our economy. We hope the Secretary of State takes heed of this fact.
"The pleasing news that feedstock oil will now be accounted for in the CCC's demand profile, having previously been omitted, is an important reminder that oil has a number of vitally important uses today and will continue to do so to 2050 and beyond.
"UKOOG and its members would be pleased to engage on further assessments on the compatibility of onshore oil and gas with our stringent net zero targets as outlined in the recommendations within the letter."
*The CCC is required by the Infrastructure Act to provide advice to the UK Government on compatibility of onshore petroleum (defined as conventional oil and gas, shale gas, shale oil and coal bed methane) with UK carbon budgets, every five years.
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