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North Sea oil and gas fields cannot in the short term fill the gap that Russia is leaving in the UK and global supply of crude, because expanding production would take years, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday.
Alongside the U.S. ban on imports of Russian energy, the UK said on Tuesday that it would "phase out imports of Russian oil in response to Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine by the end of the year."
Russian imports account for 8 percent of total UK oil demand, with the highest share in diesel, the UK government said.
"The UK is a significant producer of oil and oil products, plus we hold significant reserves. Beyond Russia, the vast majority of our imports come from reliable partners such as the US, Netherlands and the Gulf. We'll work with them this year to secure further supplies," UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.
Responding to ideas that North Sea oil production needs to be increased to offset the Russian supply, First Minister Sturgeon said in Parliament today, as carried by Herald Scotland:
"Even if we were to put to one side the environmental considerations, given the timescales and the practicalities involved, it's not credible to suggest that the short-term solution to this lies in increasing North Sea production."
"Existing fields in the North Sea are not currently operating under capacity. Expanding existing fields is possible but that would take months if not years and new fields take years if not decades to plan and develop," Sturgeon added.
A day before Russia invaded Ukraine, the UK's Energy Minister Greg Hands said that there was a future for more domestic UK oil and gas supply, and Britain would continue to grant new licenses for oil and gas development projects in the North Sea.
Despite the net-zero pledge, the current UK government continues to see the UK North Sea oil and gas industry as vital to energy security. But authorities have recently proposed that new project developments pass a so-called net-zero compatibility test.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.