Thank you for contacting me about the Cambo Oil Field.
The Cambo Oil Field was licensed in 2001 and 2004. However, consent to proceed to production is a matter for the UK’s regulators, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED). I understand that the OGA and OPRED are currently following their standard regulatory processes in relation to this case, which include a full environmental impact assessment and a public consultation.
Although UK Ministers are taking significant steps to drive down demand for fossil fuels, I recognise that oil and gas will continue to play an important role in our energy mix for the foreseeable future. This is a sentiment echoed by the independent Climate Change Committee. At present, the UK is a net importer of both oil and gas so reducing domestic production would only lead to higher imports from other countries. It is therefore reasonable to support a managed transition away from fossil fuels.
More broadly, I welcome the publication of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. This lays the blueprint for how we can achieve net zero and the further publication of the Energy White Paper made clear the Government’s commitment to clean energy sources.
As we transition to clean energy, there will still be some role for fossil fuels in the medium term. Indeed, many of the skills present in the oil and gas sector are transferrable. The Energy White Paper sets out the Government’s future plans for the sector which includes transforming the UK Continental Shelf to be a net zero basin by 2050.
In addition, the North Sea Transition Deal creates new business opportunities, jobs and skills as the oil and gas sector works to transition to clean, green energy. I am pleased that the Government will provide opportunities for oil and gas companies to repurpose their operations away from unabated fossil fuels to abatement technologies such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS), or clean energy production such as hydrogen.
The Deal goes further and includes interim targets, such as a 10 per cent reduction in emissions by 2025, 25 per cent by 2027 and 50 per cent by 2030. It also supports up to 40,000 UK supply chain jobs in decarbonising UK Continental Shelf production and the CCUS and hydrogen sectors.
Ultimately, the Government is clear that the licensing of domestic oil and gas exploration and production must continue to be compatible with our climate change ambitions. While the Government has supported the sector through the pandemic, which has protected jobs and livelihoods, there can be no ‘return to normal’ due to the context of the UK’s net zero recovery. I am encouraged that oil and gas companies are already responding positively to this challenge. For example, Shell is investing in CCUS technology.