Greg Hands – 2022 Statement on North Sea Oil and Gas

The statement made by Greg Hands, the Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, in the House of Commons on 9 February 2022.

There will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years. It is a clear choice between a transition that secures our energy, protects jobs and leads to innovation in new technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen, and an extinction for our energy sector, as I think the hon. Lady proposes. Flicking a switch and turning off our domestic source of gas overnight would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk, and we would be even more dependent on foreign imports. The way we produce oil and gas is cleaner than in many jurisdictions, so it would be illogical to import them at further expense to Britain and our planet.

The fields referred to in these reports are already licensed, some dating back to as early as 1970, and are now going through the usual regulatory processes. All proposals are subject to a rigorous scrutiny process prior to consent, as opposed to licensing, by our expert regulators, including an environmental impact assessment and a public consultation. No decisions have been taken by the regulators, so it would be inappropriate to comment further on that process. However, to be clear, continued support for Britain’s oil and gas sector is not just compatible with our net zero goals; it is essential if we are to meet the ambitious targets we set for ourselves while protecting jobs and livelihoods.

As announced last year, and forming part of the North sea transition deal, we will introduce a climate compatibility checkpoint for any new licences to ensure that any future licensing rounds remain consistent with our goals. Meanwhile, we continue to make progress on developing new nuclear, which I think the hon. Lady also opposes, and renewables that will power our future. Today, we have announced that we are ramping up our options for our flagship renewable scheme, contracts for difference, establishing new industries, boosting investment and creating jobs in our former industrial heartlands.