Ambiguity has been highlighted once again over Labour plans for North Sea energy policy.
Last week, following Sir Keir Starmer’s speech in Edinburgh, consultancy Wood Mackenzie said it believed “all activity on existing licences will be allowed to continue”.
However, a Labour source told The Times, whose Sunday edition had trailed last month the plans to block new licences, that this is not the case.
A Labour spokesman told the paper it would work to “manage our existing fields for the entirety of their lifespan” and “won’t turn off the taps by revoking existing licences”.
The party has previously said it would not revoke licences already granted before it is elected, like consents for the Cambo and Rosebank fields.
However one executive said confusion remains in areas like discovery development after a licence to explore had been granted.
Trade body Offshore Energies UK said “await(s) clarity on Labour’s proposals”.
Wood Mackenzie, in a note sent last Monday evening, said the actual impact of Labour’s policy would be viewed “as a largely symbolic gesture”, with Labour having confirmed that all activity on existing licences will be allowed to continue.
On the same day, industry leaders like Sir Ian Wood, said the policy puts tens of thousands of jobs in jeapordy.
WoodMac said the vast majority of the North Sea’s remaining resources sit within existing licences.
The rest are “sanction-ready” projects expected to be approved before Labour comes to power – like Rosebank and Cambo – which Starmer has said his party would respect.
Other factors are expected to be far more important in terms of driving investment decisions, like the North Sea windfall tax, it said.