Leading representative body for the UK offshore Oil and Gas industry, Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), yesterday outlined its plans to decarbonise the industry in response to the UK and Scottish government’s net-zero emissions goals.

In a keynote speech delivered to politicians, policymakers, and campaign groups in Edinburgh, OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie OBE introduced Roadmap 2035: an industrial response to the UK and Scottish Governments’ net-zero commitments. Michie said that the Roadmap “aims to enable a safe, sustainable, and competitive oil and gas industry, supporting the UK’s energy needs and its transition to a net-zero future. These aspects are not mutually exclusive but inextricably linked.

“Stepping up to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 in the UK and by 2045 in Scotland is also an opportunity for the UK’s oil and gas industry to shine in a competitive global market: Sustaining jobs, contributing to public services through taxation, providing secure energy supply, and diversifying as we help to find solutions.”

Roadmap 2035 outlines 60 actions in five key areas: Supporting net-zero, driving technology and innovation, developing people and skills, growing the economy and exports, and helping meet UK energy needs. The plan has been welcomed by governments and energy ministers and was developed through over 5,000 engagements with stakeholders.

Michie said that OGUK will support net-zero “by reducing emissions from the operational production of oil and gas and through supporting other heavy emitting sectors to achieve net-zero through our skills, technologies, and infrastructure.

“In terms of our own production emissions, we will be a net-zero oil and gas basin by 2050, reducing emissions from 14 million tonnes (mt) – currently 3% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions – to 0.5mt, in line with the Climate Change Committee outlook. It will require significant investment, new technology, and close working with the renewables sector in Scotland and across the UK. We are developing targets for emissions reduction and we will soon publish a detailed action plan in support of this.”

The Committee of Climate Change (CCC) is a statutory body formed under the Climate Change Act in 2008. Its purpose is to advise the UK Government on emission targets and to report on progress made in greenhouse gas emission reductions. The committee estimates that up to 175mt of CO2 per year will need to be stored in the UK by 2050.

Michie added that a premature shut-down of the oil and gas industry would do nothing to impact consumption as energy needs would instead be met by imports from other countries. Michie said: “What might seem an easy and quick fix is instead simply shifting the problem to other countries, which is sometimes referred to as carbon offshoring. This isn’t fair, inclusive, or sustainable. It’s actually irresponsible.”

OGUK’s Environment Report 2019 stated that over 95,100 tonnes of gas were vented on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) in 2018, a 53% increase from 2017 on an upward trajection since 2016. 3.5mt of CO2 was generated from flaring gas offshore in 2018 with the composition of UKCS total flare emissions being 99% carbon dioxide and 1% methane. Roadmap instates OGUK’s aim to support World Bank’s ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ initiative and its goal to reduce emissions from 14mt CO2e to 0.5mt of CO2e by 2050.