[Reuters has reported Keir Starmer’s announcement that there would be no new UK oil and gas fields under a Labour government. The Labour leader was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.]
Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), which represents the UK’s offshore industry, covering gas, oil, offshore wind and emerging low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen production and CO2 capture and storage, said policymakers should choose their words carefully. Many of its 400 members are leading the UK’s transition to greener energy systems.
Jenny Stanning, Offshore Energies UK’s external relations director, said: 'Keir Starmer’s suggestion today, at Davos, that there should be no further investment in North Sea oil and gas will be deeply upsetting to the many workers and communities dedicated to providing the UK with energy. It will also further damage investor confidence.
'Those communities, whether in the northeast of Scotland, or England’s energy coast, from Norfolk to the Scottish borders, have been central to the UK’s energy security for five decades – and especially in the last year’s energy crisis.'
'We all know that the UK must transition to low carbon energies as fast as possible. Our industry has pledged to work with the UK’s governments to reach net zero by 2050. But, in the three decades till then we will need gas and oil.
'About 24 million homes (85% of the total) rely on gas boilers for heat and we get 42% of our electricity from gas. We also have 32 million vehicles running on petrol and diesel. So, we need gas and oil.
'The companies providing those fuels are the same companies that are investing in the transition. The Office for Budget Responsibility has costed the transition at £1.4 trillion by 2050 with £1 trillion of that coming from private investors – many of them our members.
'They are already building the offshore wind farms, the CO2 capture and storage systems and the hydrogen production facilities that will power our country in future. Labour has acknowledged that it can only deliver this in partnership with business and our members stand ready to work together to achieve this.
'We have an obligation to warn all policymakers that, if you undermine those companies now, and send the sector’s 200,000 skilled workers into other industries, you will damage both the nation’s current energy security and our hopes of a rapid transition to low-carbon energies.
'So policymakers need to remember that words have consequences. Only this week we heard that another major North Sea operator is winding down UK investment. This damage must stop and that means we need to find a compromise – a pathway we can all agree on, and which is practical for the country. We will be actively seeking those discussions.'