While the UKCS may be regarded as a more mature basin than those in other parts of the world, that doesn’t mean that it is standing still or slowing down.
The concept of “energy transition” is now part of the industry’s terminology, and the impact it is having on the sector cannot be underestimated.
Oil and Gas UK published its Energy Transition Outlook for 2019 at the beginning of December.
The fact that this is now a key report in the calendar reinforces the importance for the industry to properly communicate achievements made over the past 12 months, and to show the steps being taken to support the UK’s wider aim of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The report sets out a number of pathways for the oil and gas industry to contribute to the UK target.
The industry itself is leading the way by being one of the first sectors in the economy to have a blueprint to reduce its own emissions and support the development of technologies which assist in the de-carbonising of the UK’s economy.
One thing oil and gas companies in the UK are good at is coming up with solutions for new challenges.
That skillset and expertise developed over the past 40-plus years can be applied to the energy transition.
Carbon capture, usage and storage is a particular pathway which needs to be properly invested in to have any chance of achieving net-zero.
The oil and gas industry is uniquely placed to lead its development with existing supply chain expertise and infrastructure.
But it’s not just what the sector can currently do that’s important. Oil and gas companies, from operators right through the supply chain, are evolving and investing in their businesses to meet the requirements of a low-carbon future.
Whether it’s investing in alternative energy sources, such as offshore wind, or exploring technologies to reduce carbon footprint, steps are being taken to ensure the industry can have a sustainable future as part of meeting the UK’s energy needs through to 2050 and beyond.
Of course this can’t happen in isolation, and the industry’s engagement with government is equally as important to ensure the right policies are put in place to promote investment and support the steps taken so far.
We recently hosted representatives of the Department for International Trade from a number of countries around the world who were in the UK to hear about our oil and gas industry.
The oil and gas sectors in each of these countries are at different stages of development (some are at the very beginning), but their representatives were keen to learn from the UK’s experience and reputation for global excellence.
So, is the sun setting on UKCS, or is this the start of a new day?
The push of energy transition to the top of the agenda gives the industry a platform to demonstrate leadership and set an example on how to move forward that hopefully others, not just here in the UK but also around the globe, can look to and follow.
Alasdair Freeman, partner, Burness Paull