High-skilled oil and gas workers to be utilised in drive for low carbon future


THE UK Government has said that high-skilled oil and gas workers and the supply chain ‘will not be left behind’ in the transition to a low carbon future.

It comes following the signing of the North Sea transition deal, which the UK Government said will support workers, businesses and the supply chain through the transition by harnessing the industry’s existing capabilities, infrastructure and private investment potential to exploit  new and emerging technologies – such as hydrogen production, carbon capture usage and storage, offshore wind and decommissioning.

The deal is also set to see government and trade unions work together over the next decade and beyond to deliver the skills, innovation and new infrastructure required to decarbonise North Sea production. The UK Government said the deal will support existing firms, but will also attract new industrial sectors to base themselves in the UK.

Extracting oil and gas on the UK continental shelf is directly responsible for around 3.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Through the package of measures, the UK Government said that the deal is expected to cut pollution by up to 60 million tonnes by 2030 including 15 million tonnes from oil and gas production on the UK Continental Shelf – the equivalent of annual emissions from 90% of the UK’s homes – while supporting up to 40,000 jobs across the supply chain.

Key commitments in the North Sea Transition Deal include:

  • The sector setting early targets to reduce emissions by 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2027 and has committed to cut emissions by 50% by 2030.
  • Joint government and oil and gas sector investment of up to £16 billion by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions. This includes up to £3 billion to replace fossil fuel-based power supplies on oil and gas platforms with renewable energy, up to £3 billion on carbon capture usage and storage, and up to £10 billion for hydrogen production.
  • By 2030, the sector will voluntarily commit to ensuring that 50% of its offshore decommissioning and new energy technology projects will be provided by local businesses, helping to anchor jobs to the UK.
  • The appointment of an industry supply chain champion who will support the coordination of local growth and job opportunities with other sectors, such as carbon capture usage and storage and offshore wind.

The UK Government said that an orderly transition is crucial to maintaining the energy security of supply, supporting high-value jobs, and safeguarding the expertise necessary to achieve a lower carbon future.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “Today, we are sending a clear message around the world that the UK will be a nation of clean energy as we build back better and greener from the pandemic.

“We will not leave oil and gas workers behind in the United Kingdom’s irreversible shift away from fossil fuels. Through this landmark sector deal, we will harness the skills, capabilities and pent-up private investment potential of the oil and gas sector to power the green industrial revolution, turning its focus to the next-generation clean technologies the UK needs to support a green economy.

“At every step on the path to net zero emissions, we will create the right conditions for new green industries to base themselves in the UK and create new high-value employment opportunities, while future-proofing existing businesses to secure the long-term viability of jobs in our industrial heartlands.”

Chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, Deirdre Michie, added, “The North Sea transition deal is a transformative partnership which will harness the expertise of the UK offshore oil and gas industry to urgently meet the country’s climate ambitions of net zero emissions by 2050.

“It will unlock billions of pounds of investment and see government and industry work together to deliver a homegrown energy transition, realising innovative low carbon solutions that can be exported globally.

“The deal will safeguard UK energy security, providing affordable energy to millions of households, secure tens of thousands of jobs in industrial heartlands across the country and support the UK economy. It is the first deal of its kind by any G7 country and a striking example of the UK showing global leadership on climate change ahead of COP26.”