A Greenpeace climate boss has warned that “increased” North Sea protest action will take place if strong measures on tackling emissions aren’t executed by oil and gas firms.
Senior climate adviser Charlie Kronick said his organisation has no intention of “shutting off” the basin, but claimed the sector only has 10 years to transform itself and urged the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to immediately cancel the next licencing round.
He also hit out at the North Sea oil and gas sector for continually “putting off” the energy transition in order “to keep banking the proceeds”.
Mr Kronick said he appreciated that “a lot of the prosperity” in Scotland has come from having a “vibrant and technically accomplished oil industry” and that the energy transition would be “challenging” for Aberdeen.
But he added that if the sector wants to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement there is going to have to be “a dramatic drop in the use of oil and gas in the next decade – not the next 30 years”.
He said: “This is all happening at the exact same time as the OGA is attempting to maximise the economic recovery (MER) of oil and gas in the North Sea – those two things are just not compatible.”
Mr Kronick also warned that if the UK wants to get close to the Paris target “we’re going to have to leave around 9% of the oil and 6% of the gas that’s already in production in the ground.”
He added: “We’ve said publicly that we think the 32nd Licencing Round should be cancelled, there should be no more new licences.
“It’s a nonsense if we’re serious about meeting these targets and that’s why we took the action that we took last year.”
Greenpeace activists halted the progress of a Transocean rig from reaching BP’s Vorlich filed in June.
It is understood the 12-day standoff cost BP around £1.5 million.
Asked about potential future action by Greenpeace in the North Sea, Mr Kronick said the activist group “don’t have a lot of choice”.
He added: “This is the defining environmental issue of the era – if we’re not involved in this we might as well go home. So in that sense, yes, I think you will see increased and on-going action from Greenpeace.”
Hedvig Ljungerud, OGA director of strategy, said: “The OGA agrees the energy transition to net zero will be challenging for the oil and gas industry and it is crucial we all work together to ensure the necessary changes are made. We fully support the energy transition and share the view that industry can and must go further and faster in reaching net zero.
“Nonetheless, oil and gas will play an important role in the energy mix for the foreseeable future, so we must work together to ensure that those resources are extracted as cleanly as possible, and collaborate closely in driving forward industry’s unique role in carbon capture and storage – a key component of the move to net zero for the whole of the UK.”
Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK said she “welcomed” confirmation that Greenpeace does not want to shutdown the North Sea, and that the group “recognise the need for urgent action to meet the UK’s climate ambitions”.
She added: “The UK oil and gas industry’s can play a key role and Roadmap 2035: a blueprint for Net Zero is one of the first major industrial responses to government plans to reduce or offset carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 in the UK and 2045 in Scotland.
“We are an industry in action with a credible plan to build a safe, sustainable and competitive industry that realises its full potential in the transition to the low carbon future we all want to see.
“Delivering an inclusive and fair energy transition will require collaborative effort by every industry, every company and every individual in society. Our doors are open and we encourage all interested parties to work with us to achieve this common goal.”