New British oil and gas licenses in the North Sea face legal challenges

UK regulators on Friday gave the go-ahead for a new round of licenses allowing companies to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea, as climate activists signaled they would seek a legal challenge.

The North Sea Transition Authority is expected to issue more than 100 permits to companies by the end of June as the government seeks to boost Britain’s energy self-sufficiency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in part by extracting more fossil fuels from the North Sea .

However, environmental group Greenpeace claimed the new round of licensing may be “unlawful” and indicated it would seek a legal challenge.

Climate campaigners have said the government’s efforts to secure more oil and gas from the North Sea are at odds with its commitment for the UK to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In its new approval round, NSTA is prioritizing four areas in the southern part of the North Sea where gas has already been detected. Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the licenses “encourage both [the UK’s] Energy security and our economy”.

Licensing rounds used to be an almost annual event. But there was a pause after the last round in 2019-20, when the government promised to draft a “climate impact assessment” to ensure that issuing new permits was “consistent with the UK’s broader climate goals”.

Bar chart of supply mix in 2021, showing how the UK relies on gas imports

The check was released last month but was criticized by climate groups as “meaningless” as it is advisory only and does not bind ministers to any specific outcome.

Philip Evans, energy transition campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said new oil and gas licenses would not lower energy bills for struggling families “this winter or any winter soon and will not provide energy security in the medium term”.

“New licenses – and more importantly, more fossil fuels – will not solve any of these problems, but will only make the climate crisis worse,” he added. “They may be unlawful and we will carefully review opportunities to take action.”

NSTA declined to comment on Greenpeace’s claims. When asked about possible legal challenges last week, Andy Samuel, outgoing NSTA executive chairman, said, “We make sure that everything we do within NSTA is done to a very high standard.”

The licensing round has also been criticized for the long time it can take for each oil and gas discovery to reach production. The average is five years, according to NSTA, although it hopes the accelerated licenses could yield results in just 12 to 18 months from the time they are issued.

Samuel said last week that given the “unusual” situation in western Europe after Russia halted gas exports via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in August, it was right to do “everything we can do to boost domestic production.” “. But he also admitted that new rounds of licensing would not change the UK’s overall reliance on imports.

Last year, oil and gas in the UK made up just 39 per cent of the country’s total supply mix, according to a government estimate.

Pipeline imports from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium made up 44 percent of the mix, while LNG from destinations like the US, Qatar and Russia made up the rest.

The UK government is seeking long-term gas deals with countries like Norway and Qatar. New British oil and gas licenses in the North Sea face legal challenges

Adam Bradshaw

TheHitc is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button