Details of further government support for decarbonising the North Sea oil and gas sector will be considered by the UK government ahead of its autumn spending review in November, the minister for energy and climate change has said on a visit to Aberdeen.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan met with industry executives at the formal opening of the offices of trade body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) and also toured Balmoral Offshore in Altens yesterday – the same day a highly influential report calling to hear the “death knell” for fossil fuels attracted worldwide attention.
Ms Trevelyan, who was appointed to the role in January, said she was “impressed with the pace” that the industry was driving the transition to clean energy.
A long-awaited North Sea Transition Deal was finally agreed between UK Government and industry in March with ambitions to “unlock” investment in carbon capture and hydrogen energy technology. Its aims are to stimulate investment of £16 billion, secure 40,000 jobs and cut emissions by 60m tonnes over the next 10 years.
Recently the UK government has pledged support to a number of initiatives including
£27 million for the Energy Transition Zone which is earmarked for land alongside the South Harbour expansion project, as well as £5m for the Global Underwater Hub.
Currently there are a number of projects such as those backed by the “Scottish Cluster” of carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production based mainly around Peterhead which are awaiting significant UK government decisions on funding.
The UK energy minister said that while the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “sets out clearly the need to move to clean energy supplies”, the reality was that the country will continue to need North Sea oil and gas “for the foreseeable future”.
She said: “I was meeting with a number to discuss how they are making progress on that, which is effectively the opportunity to use the North Sea continental shelf as a carbon capture and storage base which is a full circle challenge – taking out the oil for the last 50 years and now putting carbon dioxide back into those underground spaces.
“Aberdeen is such an important centre of all these technologies and all these constituent parts which are needed for the energy sector.
“Historically it’s oil and gas but it’s moving at incredible pace to support all the clean energy sectors as well.
“It has been a real pleasure to come and meet these people myself.”
She added: “There will be as ever treasury submissions to the spending review in the autumn of which I have no doubt they will be a part.”
Ms Trevelyan was also joined by David Duguid, UK Government minister for Scotland, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for OGUK’s new office in Annan House, near Union Square.
Deirdre Michie, chief executive of OGUK welcomed the ministers’ “show of support at such a pivotal time for our industry”. She said: “This ceremony marks an era of transformation for our sector as we continue our recovery, working with the UK Government to implement the North Sea Transition Deal, a key catalyst for net-zero and the prime minister’s 10 Point Plan alike.
“We hope to build on this positive relationship with government in the coming years to realise the full potential of our changing sector, supporting jobs and the economy while playing a key role in delivering the government’s net-zero targets.”
Mr Duguid added: “It was great to meet representatives from OGUK and see the brilliant new offices at Annan House, marking another step forward in the North Sea Transition Deal.
“The north-east of Scotland has a reputation for excellence in the oil and gas industry, and as we move towards a greener future, the UK Government is supporting the area to become a global centre of excellence in the energy transition.
“The deal will safeguard and create highly-skilled jobs in the north-east, boosting the economy while helping us realise our net-zero ambitions.”