Offshore Energies UK warns today that Britain must not give in to environmental groups calling for bans on North Sea oil and gas exploration.

The trade body says in a new report that Ireland is becoming ever more reliant on our country for gas supplies, with UK imports more than doubling since 2017 - to 75% of Irish demand.

By 2030, the Republic of Ireland could be 90% reliant on gas pumped from the UK via pipelines running under the Irish Sea from Scotland.

The situation is highlighted in OEUK’s Business Outlook Report 2023, due out on March 28. The study will warn that Ireland’s growing reliance on imports could be ‘irreversible’ because of an Irish Government decision to stop issuing new exploration licences for oil and gas.

It adds: “Ireland’s growing reliance on the UK for primary energy illustrates the importance for all countries of maximising energy efficiency and domestic energy production - ideally from renewables or from other sources.”

OEUK’s report will state that, in the short term, the UK must not give in to pressure from environmental groups calling for similar bans on North Sea oil and gas exploration.

Energy independence

It goes on: “Such a move would leave the UK in the same situation as Ireland - increasingly dependent on other countries and exposed to global shortages. In the longer-term, energy independence will come from accelerating the move to low-carbon energies.”

The trade body said that last year’s energy crises have seen the UK playing an increasingly important role in European energy security.

Our gas networks provided four billion cubic metres of gas to Ireland in 2022 – the highest since 2015. The UK also sent 19 billion cubic metres of gas to continental Europe – almost double the previous record.

The increase in gas sent to Europe was provided by LNG shipments to the UK - and is a role it would have been unable to play without its own domestic resources as the imported supplies would have been needed by UK consumers.

Ross Dornan, OEUK’s markets intelligence manager, author of the forthcoming report, said: “Following the Republic of Ireland’s ban on new oil and gas licensing, its government’s own estimates suggest that by 2030 Ireland could be 90% reliant on gas imports.

“The Irish government was acting with good intentions. It imposed this ban to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But such bans can only reduce emissions if they are coupled with reductions in gas demand and consumption. Otherwise, you risk making your country ever more reliant on imports.

More emissions

"Gas imported from abroad usually generates more emissions because of the energy used to liquefy it, transport it and then turn it back into a gas. So there is no real benefit for the planet if you replace domestic supplies with imports.

“The events in Ireland and its growing dependence on imports highlight the dangers of applying similar bans to the UK’s production of oil and gas from the North Sea, Irish Sea and Atlantic. The UK is a vital strategic partner to Ireland and its European neighbours, helping maintain energy supplies in their time of need. We hope they would do the same for us. It would be dangerous to disrupt these mutually-supportive networks.

“The UK has 23million homes heated by gas boilers, 32million vehicles running on petrol or diesel and gets 40% of its power from power stations that burn gas. If we want to cut our greenhouse-gas emissions, we need to replace that infrastructure with low carbon alternatives – not cut off our own supplies.”

More like this…

View all