Consultation asks for views on emissions reduction requirements
Failure to invest in platform electrification could impact future consents
Increased scrutiny of assets with high emissions intensity
Specific pathways on greenhouse gas emissions reduction for the oil and gas industry have been proposed, amid concerns targets will be missed without further action. This approach will provide certainty for industry and allow for clearer long-term planning.
The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has today (5 October) launched a consultation on its proposed new emissions reduction plan (OGA Plan) to encourage oil and gas operators to take action today and in future investment decisions to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and get on long-term reduction pathways.
Production emissions have reduced significantly in recent years, but still account for around 3% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions and, even as demand declines during the energy transition, domestic oil and gas will still be required for decades to come – emphasising the importance of the industry continuing to cut emissions.
Significant progress has been made, but there is more work to be done and the NSTA estimates that without further initiatives, the 2030 emissions reduction target agreed between government and industry as part of the North Sea Transition Deal may be missed. Industry is already taking decisions that will have a bearing on their ability to meet the commitments not just up to but also beyond 2030, and to play their part in ensuring the UK meets its net zero by 2050 target.
Continuing to clean-up production is necessary to preserve an ongoing social licence to operate in UK waters, and therefore to secure domestic production during the time our consumption transitions away from fossil fuels. The NSTA is taking a basin-wide approach to emissions reductions, and pressing industry using robust regulation and management and launching the Plan consultation.
The draft Plan sets out the NSTA’s proposed requirements for how industry can meet its obligations regarding emissions reductions from oil and gas production. The Plan is broken down into four areas: investment and efficiency; platform electrification and low carbon power; inventory; and flaring and venting. It lays out detailed requirements, with supporting actions from the NSTA, and the potential consequences which could follow from failing to meet the requirements.
The proposed requirements around platform electrification, for example, specify dates for new fields to come online electrification-ready and then be electrified. Power generation was responsible for 79% of platform emissions in 2022, so electrification could deliver carbon savings of up to two million tonnes per annum by 2030, equivalent to removing one million cars off the road for a year, and a total of up to 22 million tonnes by 2050, greater than the annual emissions of Northern Ireland.
The proposals for electrification requirements in the Plan follow a recent letter to operators from the NSTA which warns that production consent could be withheld if fields are not electrification-ready. The North Sea Transition Deal, agreed by Government and industry, set targets of 10% emissions reduction by 2025, 25% by 2027 and 50% in 2030, before reaching net zero in 2050.
In support of the NSTA’s revised Strategy, which introduced a range of net zero obligations on the industry, the NSTD focused on actions industry can take such as platform electrification and new standards on flaring and venting. The draft Plan is another tool under the Strategy.
Stuart Payne, North Sea Transition Authority Chief Executive, said:
“It is essential that industry continues to reduce its emissions. Progress is tough and will require investment, collaborative effort and detailed planning. We are publishing the draft Plan today for consultation, to give clarity on requirements now and for the long term.
“UK industry is already doing some very impressive things. North Sea gas is almost four times cleaner than importing LNG, emissions have been cut three years in row, and flaring has been near halved in four years, and with this Plan we set out what is necessary to continue the downward trajectory.
“I ask for real engagement in the consultation as the input will be crucial to develop this approach.”
The NSTA consultation will run for eight weeks until 30 November and submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two workshops, one for Relevant Persons (holders of petroleum licences; operators under petroleum licences; owners of upstream petroleum infrastructure; persons planning and carrying out the commissioning of upstream petroleum infrastructure; and owners of relevant offshore installations) and a second for other interested stakeholders will be held on Friday 3 November and Monday 13 November respectively. To register your interest, please email email@example.com
Notes to editors:
Read the OGA Plan Consultation here.