The North Sea Transition Deal is a ground-breaking deal between Government and industry to plan a path to net zero. The Deal celebrated its first birthday in March 2022, showcasing good progress and encouraging momentum. Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) continues to celebrate the Deal’s 18 month anniversary with the launch of Methane Action Plan (MAP) Guidelines last month –seeing the UK oil and gas industry take another step forward in its journey to net zero emissions. The Deal sets out a clear roadmap for accelerating green energy technologies, cutting emissions and, ultimately, delivering a net zero industry by 2050.
It’s no exaggeration to call the Deal ground-breaking. It’s the first of its kind by any G7 country and reinforces the UK’s position as a global leader in the transition to cleaner energy. The lessons learned from this partnership will be used to aid the energy transition globally.
When we talk about energy transition, many minds turn to thinking about managing greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst managing scope 1 emissions, such as methane, is a key part of the Deal, we are also making good progress in other areas, including introducing hydrogen, getting ready for carbon capture and storage, transforming the supply chain to be fit for the greener industry, and finding a pathway for our people to get the skills they need to meet future needs.
You might remember the launch of the Government and Regulators Electrification Group, a dedicated body that works with industry to address barriers to electrification. Perhaps you’ve heard of HyNet North West and the East Coast Cluster, two innovative industrial hubs working to decarbonise the energy sector through advancements in carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS); or the £100m of new government funding that has been committed to developing the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy.
These are just a few outcomes of the Deal to date and demonstrate industry and government’s commitment to realise the goals this partnership set out to achieve – to deliver net zero by 2050; unlock £16 billion in investment; secure up to 40,000 jobs in energy; reduce emissions by up to 60 million metric tons; and ensure local supply chain accounts for half the inputs into new energy projects.
Our recently launched Methane Action Plan will help industry collectively take the next step forward in managing our emissions and progressing the Deal. We know that globally the oil and gas industry is the third-largest emitter of methane behind the agriculture and waste industries, and that methane is one of the most potent and detrimental greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, with up to 86 times the impact of carbon emissions.
Methane has long been overlooked in discussions on greenhouse gases and climate change. In fact, the environmental harm caused by methane emissions only became known in recent years, and studies are still ongoing to understand the full extent of its impact.
The Deal commits industry to reducing emissions by 10% by 2025, 25% by 2027 and 50% by 2030. The industry commitment to halving its methane emissions by 2030 compared with 2018 levels is ambitious, and it recently adopted the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s (OGCI) methane intensity target of 0.25% by 2025.
These are hugely challenging commitments that promise to make real impact. As methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifespan than carbon dioxide, we could see a near-immediate positive impact on the atmosphere by cutting methane emissions – and our new guidelines should help oil and gas producers get there.
This is why we need the Methane Action Plan guidelines – they equip companies with advice on how to detect methane sources, measure and quantify impact, and abate emissions. It acts as a blueprint that producers can take away and use to form their own action plans, tailored to their specific operations.
The industry is rightly focused on supporting economic recovery post-COVID, protecting the nation’s security of supply, and preparing for winter. However, we can’t lose sight of the UK’s long-term goal to lead the charge on cleaner energy. The North Sea Transition Deal must be kept front of mind.