A year on from the signing of the North Sea Transition Deal (the Deal) between the UK government and the oil and gas industry, the government has provided progress reports on the reduction of emissions and alternative energy projects.

Agreed upon in March 2021, the Deal laid out plans for the decarbonisation of the oil and gas sector as part of a transition to fossil fuel-free clean energy and reducing the UK’s exposure to volatile global gas markets. 

The first deal of its kind by a G7 country, the Deal also intends to accelerate parts of the government’s Ten Point Plan and Net Zero Strategy, including the production of low-carbon green hydrogen and the development of carbon capture projects. 

Released today, the North Sea Transition Deal: One Year On report provided updates on progress made in the past years across 5 key areas of the Deal. 

According to the report, decarbonisation of offshore oil and gas production has been accelerated through the sourcing of gas locally in the North Sea, relying less on the import of gas from abroad. 

It revealed that carbon emissions from offshore oil and gas production have fallen by 11% since 2018, equivalent to taking around a million cars off the road for the year. 

Emissions have been further lowered by the drive towards the electrification of oil platforms. 

Energy alternatives

The past year has also seen the government launch its Hydrogen Strategy – a plan to develop a low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK, in addition to the government selecting two carbon capture clusters to support for deployment in the mid-2020s. 

Commenting on the initiative’s progress, Greg Hands, Energy Minister, said, “Since our ambitious North Sea Transition Deal was agreed a year ago, we have made great progress to support the oil and gas industry and ensure a transition which safeguards energy security, jobs and expertise.” 

The report states that appointment of a Supply Chain Champion and the ongoing Supply Chain Strategy will help secure new economic opportunities and support the wider industry supply chain to align with the energy transition. 

Last year’s COP26 Summit also saw the introduction of a Methane Action Plan, which has set out the path for industry to reduce methane emissions. 

Signed by more than 100 countries during the Summit, the plan aims to cut global methane emissions by 30% by 2030. 

Calling it a ‘transformative partnership’, Deirdre Michie, Chief Executive, Offshore Energies UK, spoke about the Deal, stating that its progress during the past year has made ‘great strides’. 

“We have already seen great examples of the Deal in action – from the appointment of a Supply Chain Champion to tangible reductions in production emissions and good progress on industry electrification projects,” she added. 

Although the path to net zero appears to be progressing, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused justified concerns over the reliance of foreign imports. Part of the Deal also attempts to protect the UK’s energy security by ensuring that it has a domestic source of oil and gas. 

Diversification of energy supply could also include further investment into biomethane. In a recent statement, Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biomethane Association (ADBA), called for British PM to extend sanctions against Putin to cover the import of Russian gas. 

With the government set to taper off imports by the end of the year, Morton suggested that by immediately cutting off the supply of Russian gas the UK could boost its production of biomethane, strengthening the UK’s long-term energy and food security.