UK to Review Offshore Oil Licensing Regime

UK to Review Offshore Oil Licensing Regime
The UK government will review its policy on the future UK offshore oil and gas licensing regime as part of a wider aim of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The UK government announced Thursday that it will review its policy on the future UK offshore oil and gas licensing regime as part of a wider aim of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The review will ensure the government has the information needed to plan for future oil and gas production in the UK in a way that is aligned with tackling climate change, the UK government noted, adding that initial findings and next steps will be published in an upcoming energy white paper.

This review follows the outcome of the 32nd licensing round, which was recently announced by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). As part of this round, 113 license areas over 259 blocks, or part-blocks, were offered for award to 65 companies.

According to the UK government, the oil and gas sector supports 270,000 jobs across the UK and plays a key role in developing the infrastructure and capability for green technologies. The government added that the sector is also a major source of tax revenue for public services.

“Over half of our electricity now comes from low-carbon sources, power from coal is at an all-time low, and we have more installed offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world,” UK Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said in a government statement.

“While we have decarbonized our economy faster than any other major country over the past two decades, the oil and gas sector will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future as we move toward net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” he added.

“Our review into future oil and gas licensing rounds will ensure we are able to meet our net zero target, while protecting jobs across the country as part of our plan to build back better with a greener, cleaner economy,” Sharma continued.

The chief executive of industry body Oil & Gas UK, Deirdre Michie, said, “this review is an opportunity to shine a light on how our industry is changing”.

“With commitments to halve emissions in the next decade and committed investment in exciting low carbon solutions, the changing UK oil and gas industry is stepping up to the climate change challenge,” Michie added.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we have not stopped working, and our people have continued to work in difficult circumstances to meet as much of the UK’s oil and gas needs from domestic resources. The reality is that oil and gas will continue to be part of a diverse energy mix for years to come,” Michie continued.

“We now need a constructive and open conversation about how our oil and gas producing country can transition fairly to a lower carbon future. Working with governments, regulators and through sensible debate, we can protect jobs and affordability while being ultimately accountable for the emissions associated with the oil and gas we use,” Michie went on to say.

The OGA is currently reviewing its core strategy to ensure that it can assist in working with industry to support the UK’s climate change goals. Alongside this, the upcoming North Sea Transition Deal is scheduled to be published within this parliament, according to the government, which noted that the deal will set out more details of how the government plans to work with the sector and key stakeholders to achieve the aim of supporting a transition to low carbon energy sources.

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