A trade association representing the UK’s oil and gas sector has called for increased investment in new oil and gas fields, despite ongoing efforts to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.
Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said the UK would need to import 56 percent of its gas to meet record demand by the winter of 2021.
As many stayed in their homes more than usual due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, consumer demand for gas to heat their homes rose. But OGUK warned that with long-term North Sea gas production declining, the UK will face mounting pressure to import more gas unless efforts are made to boost domestic production.
While gas is less carbon-intensive than some fossil fuels such as coal, the UK will struggle to meet its carbon-neutral 2050 targets if it continues to rely on it.
The UK is now one of the largest gas consumers in Europe. According to OGUK’s latest report, around 23 million households (85 percent) rely on it for central heating and hot water, as well as to provide heat and power for businesses and generate 35 percent of the UK’s electricity.
One way to lower the carbon intensity of the UK’s gas-heated homes could be by using more hydrogen. In January, a group of gas companies published a plan to boost hydrogen use, aiming for one-fifth of the gas used in British homes to be hydrogen by 2023.
The OGUK report states that the UK still gets 73 percent of its total energy from gas and oil, while production from the British continental shelf supplies about 70 percent of this demand.
While renewables covered 42 percent of electricity demand in 2020, electricity only accounts for 20 percent of the UK’s total energy consumption, the report said.
Lower wind speeds and higher demand in the first quarter of this year created a shortfall, which was offset by a 6.8 percent increase in gas production.
The report also states that oil and gas from the North Sea remain an essential product for production at home and abroad and is used in everyday items such as clothing, medicines, and smartphones, as well as in vehicles and road surfaces.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “Oil and gas supplied nearly three-quarters of the UK’s total energy last year, and we will continue to rely on them to heat our homes, keep our lights on, and many of our daily necessities from medicines. to mobile phones to road surfaces, About 85 percent of British homes are still heated by gas, but imported gas reached an all-time high last year.
The government faces Greenpeace court today, with the charity arguing that it has a legal duty to check whether oil production is damaging the climate before new oil permits are approved.
It recently granted BP a license to drill 30 million barrels of oil with Greenpeace, claiming it failed to consider the climate effects of burning the oil after it was extracted.