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UK government to increase North Sea production while “remaining committed to net zero”

Published March 10, 2022

UK government to increase North Sea production while “remaining committed to net zero”

The UK government is looking at how North Sea production could be increased while accelerating the roll out of renewables like wind and solar, according to news reports.

Speaking at a news conference Boris Johnson says UK will announce new energy supply strategy alongside Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Dutch PM Mark Rutte, Boris Johnson said his government will be setting out a new energy supply strategy as energy prices hit record highs following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to the Yorkshire Post Johnson said: “There are going to be impacts but I think it is the right thing to do… to move away from Russian hydrocarbons, but we have to do it step by by step. We have got to make sure we have substitute supply. One of the things we are looking at is the possibility of using more of our own hydrocarbons. That doesn’t mean we are in any way abandoning our commitment to reducing CO2 but we have got to reflect the reality that there is a crunch on at the moment. We need to increase our self-reliance.”

The new strategy is also said to include new initiatives to improve energy efficiency, and continuing investment in low carbon nuclear for the longer term. The current crisis has seen oil trading at more than $130 a barrel, gas prices at record levels, and the prospect of physical shortages if Russian supplies are curtailed as a result of the events in Ukraine.

The UK and other European governments are urgently reviewing their energy policy in order to ensure supplies keep flowing – something that will be much harder to achieve if dependence on Russian oil and gas is to be reduced.  The flexibility of the international markets to respond is limited, and there is not much more OPEC countries can do to increase oil supplies.

“Recent events have strengthened the case for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, so it is no surprise that UK and European governments remain committed to their long-term objective of achieving net zero emissions by around 2050. But the route by which we get there may have to be altered, at least in the immediate future, if our energy supplies are to remain secure,” commented Jeremy Nicholson, corporate affairs officer at Alfa Energy.

As John Hall, Chairman of Alfa Energy Group, stated in a recent podcast:  “In the shorter term, we are going to have to look at whatever we can to keep the lights on and keep industry running.”  Hall, J. and Nicholson, J. (2022) ‘Energy security must be prioritised with the climate agenda in mind’, Resonance. [Podcast]. Available from: https://alfaenergygroup.com/uk/2022/03/energy-security-must-be-prioritised-with-the-climate-agenda-in-mind/. (Recorded: 07 March 2022).