Industry will prevail against ‘Darwinian’ fate, says OGUK chief

Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie
Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie

The chief executive of Oil and Gas UK has said the industry will prevail against claims it faces “extinction” in the fight against climate change.

Deirdre Michie was addressing North Sea leaders yesterday at the launch of the trade body’s Business Outlook report.

She highlighted a media report last week which forecasted a “Darwinian outcome” for some oil and gas firms as the energy system changes to reduce carbon emissions.

However, OGUK’s outlook report highlighted that UK production last year met 59% of the country’s demand and stated the industry has a “vital role to play” in the low-carbon transition.

Almost all future scenarios forecasted by the International Energy Agency show strong oil and gas demand until at least 2040.

Ms Michie said North Sea production will continue to play a vital role as the transition is made.

She said: “The piece was a bit gloomy about a Darwinian outcome to the evolution of the industry, suggesting the extinction of some of us as the energy system adapts and evolves.

“However, they failed to mention that Darwin was actually a fan of cooperation and creativity, because he also said ‘in the long history of humankind, those who learn to collaborate and improvise most effectively are the ones who have prevailed’.

“The transition to a lower-carbon future is already underway and society expects us to adapt to address it, from the children who left their classrooms last week to the stakeholders who are developing policies that will impact us.

“Our report confirms that UK oil and gas production met 59% of the UK’s oil and gas demand in 2018.

“It’s an impressive contribution because in doing so we’re reducing our reliance on imports, we remain vital to the UK by providing security of energy supply and we’re continuing to power the engine of our economy.

“We can maintain a strong and sustainable industry in this new reality, laying the ground for Vision 2035 and positioning the oil and gas industry to help deliver the oil and gas industry to help deliver the energy transition. “

Report author and OGUK’s market intelligence manager Ross Dornan said the energy transition needs to be phased in for the industry.

He said: “It’s clear that this industry will have a continued vital role and we have to sell that message to everybody in the economy.

“It’s not just about energy needs, it’s all of the things this industry supports.

“If we just stopped this industry then the lights go off – we can’t have that. It has to be a managed transition.

“We have to meet the challenge head-on as an industry.

“This is a fundamental challenge and if we don’t embrace it, we’ll jeapordise our future not just in the UK but as a global industry as well.”

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