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    UK upstream needs "laser focus" on cutting emissions: OGA


The industry has made good progress over the past two years, the regulator said, although further action is needed.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Complimentary, Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Energy Transition, Hydrogen, Carbon, Corporate, News By Country, United Kingdom

UK upstream needs "laser focus" on cutting emissions: OGA

The UK upstream industry delivered an 11% cut in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2018 and 2020, but it needs a "laser focus" on delivering further reductions, sector regulator OGA said on October 14.

UK oil and gas producers agreed a North Sea Transition Deal with the government in March this year, providing them with funding for decarbonisation initiatives. In that deal, the industry pledged to cut offshore GHG emissions by 10% by 2025, 25% by 2027 and 50% by 2050, using the level in 2018 as a baseline.

OGA attributed the reduction in emissions over the last two years to "proactive abatement initiatives" and "the permanent shutdown of several high emitters." Two thirds of offshore oil and gas installations lowered their emissions last year, and those that did reduce them did so by an average of 36%. 

However, the regulator cautioned that 2020 was no ordinary year, citing a decrease in offshore activity as another factor behind the decline in emissions.

"2020 was an unusual year for offshore operations as companies grappled with the twin challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and lower commodity prices, so continued decreases will require every effort," OGA said.

The regulator called on operators to look at platform electrification, reductions in flaring and venting, integration of hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and the retrofit of platforms with more energy-efficient equipment as solutions to address emissions.

"Our report makes clear that, despite positive early signs, a laser focus on further emissions reductions is required," OGA CEO Andy Samuel said. "Falling short isn't an option if the sector wants to retain its social licence to operate."

The UK has ratcheted up pressure on its oil and gas industry in recent years. While it has stopped short of calling time on oil and gas exploration like Denmark and Ireland, it has banned hydraulic fracturing onshore and has reformed its licensing policy to pay more attention to environmental issues. 

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) that the UK is hosting in Glasgow in November, 70 climate scientists called on prime minister Boris Johnson in a letter to end oil and gas development. The government also faces calls to block Shell's 170mn-barrel Cambo oil development, and the Anglo-Dutch major recently had its development plan for the Jackdaw gas field denied, although the reasons were not given.