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British PM Says North Sea Drilling Bonanza Will Move Forward

As a battle over British energy sources intensifies, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday said the expansion of oil and gas drilling in the North Sea would go forward to ensure the country’s energy security. 

At the same time, and with the need to appease mounting opposition to these plans, the prime minister announced plans for the construction of two new CCS (carbon capture and storage) sites in the North Sea, to add to the two existing facilities. The new facilities are expected to be completed by 2030. Sunak has insisted that plans to drill more in the North Sea would not prevent a net-zero transition by 2050. 

“Even when we’ve reached net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will come from oil and gas. But there are those who would rather that it come from hostile states than from supplies we have here at home,” Sunak said in a statement

In the third-quarter of this year, the UK intends to grant 100 new oil and gas drilling licenses for the North Sea, with potentially hundreds more to follow. 

Sunak’s decision was foreshadowed last week, when UK Energy Minister Grant Shapps announced that the government’s intention was to extract one-hundred percent of British North Sea oil and gas reserves. Shapps also warned that refraining from extracting all the North Sea has to offer would render the UK vulnerable to the weaponization of energy, such as the hold Russia has had over Europe in this respect. The UK imported 13 million metric tons of crude oil from Norway in 2021, along with 1.7 million tons of natural gas liquids, followed by some 11 million tons of oil and natural gas liquids from the United States.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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