Thank you for contacting me about oil extraction and the Cambo oil field.
I appreciate you raising your concerns about the oil field, and I have ensured that ministers are aware of the concerns that some constituents are raising. I understand that the original licensing consent for the Cambo oil field dates back to 2001 and the project is going through normal regulatory processes. The decision on whether to grant consent to Cambo oil field will be taken by the Oil and Gas Authority, who are ultimately responsible, rather than the Secretary of State.
While I am pleased that the Government is working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, I do also appreciate that there will continue to be some ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee.
I want to reassure you that I share your concern about the use of fossil fuels. Tackling climate change is a priority for me.
I welcome the publication of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. This lays the blueprint for how we can achieve net zero and the further publication of the Energy White Paper made clear the Government’s commitment to clean energy sources.
As we transition to clean energy, there will still be some role for fossil fuels in the medium term. However, this is not sustainable in the long term and I am pleased that steps have been taken to speed up the transition. In the Energy White Paper, it set out the Government’s future plans for the oil and gas sector. This includes transforming the UK Continental Shelf, the areas of the sea bed and subsoil beyond the territorial sea over which the UK exercises sovereign rights of exploration and exploitation of natural resources, to be a net zero basin by 2050. In addition, the North Sea Transition Deal creates new business opportunities, jobs and skills as the oil and gas sector works to transition to clean, green energy. I am pleased that the Government will provide opportunities for oil and gas companies to repurpose their operations away from unabated fossil fuels to abatement technologies such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS), or clean energy production such as hydrogen.
The Deal goes further and includes interim targets, such as a 10 per cent reduction in emissions by 2025, 25 per cent by 2027 and 50 per cent by 2030. It also supports up to 40,000 UK supply chain jobs in decarbonising UK Continental Shelf production and the CCUS and hydrogen sectors.
Ultimately, the Government is clear that the licensing of domestic oil and gas exploration and production must continue to be compatible with our climate change ambitions. While the Government has supported the sector through the pandemic, which has protected jobs and livelihoods, there can be no ‘return to normal’ due to the context of the UK’s net zero recovery. I am encouraged that oil and gas companies are already responding positively to this challenge. For example, Shell is investing in CCUS technology which seeks to capture CO2 from a gas plant and transport it by pipeline into depleted oil and gas reservoirs in the North Sea.