The British Energy Security Strategy published last week sets out our long-term plan to ensure 95% of Great Britain’s electricity is low carbon by 2030 - that’s greater energy independence.
But the transition to cheap, clean power can’t happen overnight. We will need oil and gas over the coming decades. That’s just a matter of fact.
In such an uncertain world - and in a world where oil and gas are still necessary - it would be foolish to turn the taps off on domestic production anytime soon. This has to be a transition, not extinction.
The UK Continental Shelf is a major strategic asset. The trump card that stops Putin from leveraging his country’s natural resources for geopolitical ends. We’ve seen what happens when countries become too dependent on Russia. Fortunately, thanks to the UKCS and reliable partners like Norway - we’re not in that position.
On Thursday, we announced that the North Sea Transition Authority is planning to launch a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas to bolster our domestic security of supply - while taking into account the forthcoming climate compatibility checkpoint. We will also be introducing extra support to speed up the development of new opportunities – known as New Project Regulatory Accelerators.
Gas is currently the glue that holds our electricity system together and it will be an important transition fuel. It is expensive, but necessary.
For example, its flexibility has underpinned our massive rollout of offshore wind. Indeed, since 2010, we have expanded renewable capacity by 500 per cent - more than any other Government - but there’s more to do.
However, in the meantime, gas will remain the workhorse of our energy system in the medium term. Producing gas in the UK also has a lower carbon footprint than liquified natural gas imported from abroad.
Those calling for an immediate end to UK oil and gas ignore the fact that it would make the UK more reliant on foreign imports - it doesn’t reduce demand.
And critics also overlook the scores and scores of jobs the industry provides. What happens to those workers if we pull the plug? We need these skills to ramp up new industries, like hydrogen and Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage.
The North Sea oil and gas sector has been a major industrial success story for decades. We must keep supporting the UK’s oil and gas industry and the people who work in it, as we transition to a clean, cheap, sovereign energy system.
We can – and should – be optimistic about the future of cheap, clean power in the UK. But please, let’s also be realistic about our current energy needs.