The UK’s gas imports are anticipated to soar in the next few years, with a new analysis from the Financial Times showing that the nation’s reliance on imports of the resource will rise to just under 70% by 2030.
This is due largely to mounting pressure from environmentalists to put a stop to domestic drilling.
The UK already imports large amounts of its gas, with Norway providing the majority of this resource – 1.4 million metric tons of natural gas was imported from Norway in 2020. According to the UK Government, the country imported record high levels of gas in 2019, bringing in 18.7 billion cubic metres of liquified natural gas, which accounted for 39% of natural gas imports and one-fifth of total supply.
Despite the fact that calls to put an end to domestic gas production have grown increasingly loud, the government has made it clear that it will remain a key part of the nation’s energy mix, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing on Tuesday that the UK will forge ahead with new oil and gas projects in the North Sea.
With rising energy bills and fears over supply issues, resolve to turn away from this energy source is low as nations move to protect themselves against shortages. Earlier this year, industry body Oil and Gas UK warned that unless the UK develops new offshore fields, it would become increasingly vulnerable to geopolitical tensions and price hikes.
Yet even with its North Sea projects, the UK would be unable to meet its growing domestic demand. The Financial Times reports that the nation would only be able to meet a fifth of forecast gas demand from domestic resources by 2040, and 15% in 2050, with attention turning to bumping imports as a result.
The UK has a target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, with attention turning to renewable projects in the country as the government gears up for a series of auctions to accelerate deployment of these projects in the nation. Environmentalists have argued this strategy is incompatible with plans to maximise North Sea gas reserves, though the problem of how to meet spiking demand without gas remains a contentious topic.