Britain's energy-import bill surged to £117billion last year, it is revealed today - the first time it has broken the £100billion barrier.

A new report from Offshore Energies UK also says the 2022 figure is more than double 2021's total of £54billion.

The trade body's business-outlook report, published on March 28, will warn that British consumers and firms could face similar import bills in this and future years - especially if the windfall tax imposed on UK oil and gas operators remains unmodified.

The cost equates to £4,200 per household, with the findings coming as MPs prepare for a Commons debate tomorrow on the UK's "energy trilemma" - the balance between energy security, costs, and the environmental impact.

OEUK's study will say that the jump to £117billion was driven partly by global price rises linked to the Ukraine conflict, but also by inflation and higher worldwide demand after the pandemic.

The weakness of the UK economy and sterling was also a key factor because oil is valued in US dollars. The pound was worth up to $1.40 in 2021, but is now hovering around $1.20 - so each pound buys less.

Imports breakdown

In 2022, the UK spent about £63billion on crude oil, petrol, diesel, and other oil-based fuels, with another £49billion spent on buying gas. The rest of the £117billion was spent on imports of coal and electricity.

Data shows that energy imports from Norway alone went from £13billion in 2019 to £41billion in 2022. The UK is now reliant on Norway for more than 30% of its gas.

OEUK's report will warn that allowing Britain's reliance on imports to grow further risks similar bills in this and future years - and will undermine the nation's energy security as well as its economy.

It will also tell policymakers that, in a world where imported energy supplies are increasingly vulnerable to global supply and price shocks, the UK's North Sea should be seen as the bedrock of the nation's energy security.

That means mainly oil and gas for now, but expanding offshore wind and other low-carbon resources for the future.

Ross Dornan, OEUK's markets intelligence manager, said today: "What these figures show is the risk and cost of relying on other countries for our energy security - and how far we are from reducing that reliance.

Constant proportion

"About three-quarters of the UK's total energy comes from oil and gas - a proportion that has stayed constant for many years.

"We now rely on other countries for about half that supply - a proportion that will increase rapidly, especially if North Sea production is allowed to decline faster than UK consumption.

"The UK is on a three-decade journey to net zero and self-reliance, but that needs long-term planning to reduce the demand for oil and gas.

"The UK has nearly 24million homes heated by gas - which also fuels the power stations that provide 43% of our electricity. We also have 32million cars fuelled by petrol and diesel.

"We can replace that infrastructure and those vehicles with low-carbon alternatives, but it will take years during which we will still need oil and gas to keep our homes warm, keep the lights on and keep our roads moving.

"Our report argues that it will be better for our energy security and for the economy to get as much of that oil and gas from our own North Sea as we can - rather than import it."

High tax rate

David Whitehouse, OEUK's chief executive, added: "The windfall tax levied last year, now means UK offshore oil and gas operators are paying a total tax rate of 75%, - one of the highest rates in the world and over three times the rate of conventional UK businesses.

"This level of tax discourages investment and undermines our companies, our jobs and our communities.

"As our business outlook report will show, many offshore operators are already cutting North Sea investment because of those taxes.

"That means oil and gas production will fall, we'll lose skilled workers - and imports will have to increase to make up for the lost production."

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