Wow, what a 12 months that was. The last article I wrote for Energy Voice was in June and looking back now, it shows how little was understood about the impact Covid-19 would have on our lives. I suggested in that article that we were emerging from the crisis then. How wrong could I be?
There is no denying 2020 was an incredibly tough year for us all and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what has happened in the past 12 months and what we should be very proud of.
Last year started out with great optimism, certainly within the oil and gas sector.
We were starting to see signs of recovery after the last downturn and activity was on the up. OGUK was driving ahead with Roadmap 2035 to ensure the UK leads the way in terms of the energy transition.
The opportunities for the supply chain and the north-east region as a whole were starting to crystallise as we aimed to become the world’s first net-zero basin.
At the end of March, we went into our first lockdown and the combined effect of the pandemic, reduced demand for hydrocarbons and the resulting low oil price hit the global economy and our industry hard. Many organisations have done well to minimise losses and maintain staff, many have not been so lucky.
We did, throughout this period, prove that we can be adaptable and productive when working from home.
The shift to remote working was not easy but it has shown that flexible working arrangements can work and I hope this will be embraced.
Also, during this time, big steps were taken in our move towards net-zero. In May, the Oil and Gas Authority released a new strategy around decarbonisation and in June, OGUK committed to halving carbon dioxide emissions from oil and gas operations by 2030.
These are critical to ensure our industry maintains its social licence to operate and help drive the energy transition.
In several other respects, we have emerged from 2020 very differently.
Government plans and funding have been announced to aid recovery and accelerate our transition to net-zero. The UK, with aspirations to be world leaders in low-carbon energy, recently released the 10-point plan for recovery. This pledged support for offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, restoring nature and cleaner transportation, to name a few.
We have a goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040. Our industry has the expertise and infrastructure to help make this happen.
This has been followed up by the release of the Committee on Climate Change’s sixth Carbon Budget and the long-awaited Energy White Paper. These confirmed the UK will require a diverse energy mix and that oil and gas has a role to play.
With the UK hosting COP26 in Glasgow this year, we will see an increased focus on reducing our carbon emissions and leading the way to a more resilient and sustainable future.
There are real opportunities for our industry, organisations and each one of us to get involved and drive the energy transition.
So, I look forward to the opportunities that 2021 will bring and I look forward to working with industry to deliver results and be part of what will be a historic time in respect to climate change.