Six North Sea oil and gas fields are set to be given the green light this year, according to newspaper reports this morning.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has asked Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, to fast-track the licenses amid Treasury fears over the economic impact of making the UK a net zero carbon emitter by 2050.

The Telegraph reports that several Cabinet ministers believe the pace of net zero is too fast, and that the UK must continue exploring its domestic fossil fuel reserves to prevent it becoming over-reliant on foreign imports.

Drilling to begin

The six oil and gas areas, which have already been given a preliminary licence by ministers, are expected to be given approval by Britain’s oil and gas regulator to begin construction of rigs in the North Sea.

Drilling of oil and gas could begin in the Rosebank field, to the west of Shetland, and at the Jackdaw, Marigold, Brodick and Catcher sites in the central North Sea.

A sixth site, Tolmount East, had been intended to be approved by the Oil and Gas Authority last year but is now expected in 2022.

Despite calls for all domestic fossil fuel extraction to be halted, ministers have pledged to continue to support oil and gas production while renewable energy sources are developed.

The Chancellor told parliament: "There are £11 billion of projects lined up to go. I want to unlock that investment because that is good for this country, good for British jobs and good for our energy security."

The combined reserves of all six sites are thought to be enough to power the whole UK for six months, with 62 million tonnes of oil equivalent fuel in the ground.

Energy security

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “The Business Secretary is pushing for more investment into the North Sea while we transition – not just for jobs and tax revenue, but for domestic energy security.

“Kwasi is actively resisting insane calls from Labour and the eco-lobby to turn off UK production. Doing so would trash energy security, kill off 200,000 jobs, and we would only end up importing more from foreign countries with dubious records.

“Over the long term, we need to generate more secure, affordable, low carbon power in the UK to achieve greater energy independence. The more clean power we generate in the UK, the less exposed consumers will be to gas prices set by international markets.”

More like this…

View all