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UK Could Block New Oil Projects if Operators Fail to Cut Emissions

North Sea oil and gas operators should make all reasonable efforts to cut emissions to ensure continued energy production with the lowest possible emissions, or risk not being given consent for field developments, the UK’s North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) said in a new plan on Wednesday.  

The regulator, which authorizes field development projects, published today a new emissions reduction plan, which “highlighted the need for action across the board on production decarbonisation – including action on flaring and venting and the electrification of oil and gas installations - to ensure the future of the industry and hit net zero targets,” it said.                                                             

Despite the fact that the industry has cut production emissions by almost a quarter since 2018 and flaring alone nearly halved from 2018 to 2022, these emissions still account for around 3% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions, NSTA said. Considering that power generation was responsible for 79% of production emissions in 2022, electrification or clean power generation can play a significant role in reducing the volume of emissions, the authority noted.  

Electrification of producing assets alone could, under the best-case scenario, save 1-2 million tons of emissions in 2030, equal to taking one million cars off the road for a year, and a total of up to 22 million tons by 2050, according to NSTA.   

The new plan says that electrification and low-carbon electricity for powering platforms are the pillars of the emissions reduction plan.

If the authority has deemed that electrification would be reasonable and feasible, but it has not been done, “there should be no expectation that the NSTA will approve Field Development Plans and similar decisions that give access to future hydrocarbon resources on that asset.”

According to Stuart Payne, NSTA Chief Executive,

“The Plan strikes the right balance in supporting industry in its work producing the oil and gas which we need and will continue to need in the coming decades, while at the same time playing its role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”  

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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