Boss of Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce Russell Borthwick has welcomed news that the door has been left open for further North Sea drilling as uncertainty over gas supplies increases due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
In its advice to government, the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) said it supports “stringent” tests on north sea licensing as part of proposed climate compatibility checkpoints, but stopped short of recommending an end to exploration altogether.
The CCC said that it would support a “presumption against exploration”, primarily because of the signal it would send to investors and the world about the UK’s commitment to limiting global warming.
North Sea drilling still open
However, in a letter to UK government business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, it stopped short of recommending such a ban because the scientific evidence was inconclusive and it acknowledged that the government must factor in “additional important considerations, such as on energy security”.
The report comes at a time when household energy bills are rising quickly.
Oil and gas prices are climbing on fears that the crisis will disrupt supplies across the world.
Experts have already warned UK households could face price surges as high as 35% in their gas bills due to the Russian attack.
Mr Borthwick said; “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences throughout Europe.
“In economic terms, the unfolding crisis is already having a marked impact upon rising oil and gas prices, while at the same time UK and European stock indices have fallen.
“These effects are likely to be long-term, and the current geopolitical situation underlines the need for the security that domestic energy supplies provide.
“North sea oil and gas will continue to be an important and necessary part of our energy mix as we move towards net zero over the coming decades.
“The UK’s Climate Change Committee has today confirmed that future drilling in the north sea should remain an option, for several ‘important considerations, such as on energy security’.
“Our members are in no doubt that the north-east of Scotland, which has been the energy powerhouse of the UK for 50 years must be at the forefront of the global transition to net zero.
“As the situation develops in Eastern Europe, the case for urgent investment to secure that just transition becomes mission critical to the UK’s future security and prosperity.”