The Scottish Government has said the North Sea oil industry’s skills base can help overcome obstacles in the way of its charge to a low carbon future.
In its first energy strategy, published yesterday, the government said 40 years of operating in the basin had cultivated expertise in vital areas such as subsea engineering.
It also said the oil and gas sector would play an “essential role” in future energy systems. Demand for gas, in particular, is expected to keep rising until the middle of this century.
The strategy’s authors said maintaining domestic production, rather than increasing the country’s reliance on imports, could lower net global emissions.
Furthermore, there are signs that progress is being made on carbon intensity, with North Sea output rising while greenhouse gas emissions from production continues to fall.
The government vowed to keep supporting investment in the sector. Earlier this year it launched a £5million challenge fund to help pay for infrastructure upgrades which will enable Scottish ports to bring in more decommissioning work.
Its latest programme for government commits a further £7.5million towards establishing a deep water port which could accommodate the largest vessels used in decommissioning.
Will Webster, energy policy manager at Oil and Gas UK, welcomed the acknowledgement that the sector would remain the “bedrock” of Scotland’s energy systems.Mr
Webster said: “It’s good to hear support for investment, innovation and diversification across our sector so we can maximise economic recovery from the North Sea, as well as acknowledgement of the world-class skills that our sector supports.”
The government also announced the creation of a £20million energy investment fund and a £60million low carbon innovation fund as it looks to champion Scotland’s “renewable energy potential”.
Other priorities set out in the energy strategy include protecting consumers from excessive costs, creating new jobs in renewables, improving energy efficiency across infrastructure and industry, supporting local energy systems, and securing sufficient energy supply.
The strategy sets new targets for 2030. By then, the government wants half of the energy used for heat, transport and electricity consumption to come from renewable sources.
The government also used its energy strategy to reiterate its support for a carbon capture and storage project at the St Fergus gas plant near Peterhead.
Stuart Haszeldine, Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage director, said: “We need to produce clean energy from different technologies but we also need CCS as part of that mix – to supply clean low-cost hydrogen, to decarbonise industry and clean up fossil fuel use in our transition to a zero-carbon future.”
In October, the Scottish parliament voted to support the government’s preference for a ban on fracking.
A public consultation on the creation of a state-owned, not-for-profit energy company will begin late next year.