North Sea Gas has lower carbon footprint than imported LNG

Energy Transition Group
27 May 2020

The production of natural gas from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) creates less than half as much greenhouse gas as imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), according to data published by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

In this analysis, gas extracted from the UKCS has an average emission intensity of 22 kgCO2e/boe; whereas imported LNG has a significantly higher average intensity of 59 kgCO2e/boe.

Importing gas via by pipeline, particularly from Norway, produces an even lower average of 18 kgCO2e/boe, which suggests there is still potential for the UKCS to continue to improve its operations and lower emissions further.

The process of liquefaction, combined with the emissions produced by the transportation and regasification of the LNG once in the UK, are responsible for the considerably higher emissions intensity of LNG.

In 2019, the UKCS supplied 46% of UK gas consumption. Imported LNG supplied around 21% and the remaining 33% was imported via pipeline. Estimates predict that while gas demand will decline slightly from the current level of 69 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2019 to 60 bcm in 2035, UK gas production will fall at a faster rate from 35 bcm in 2019 to 16 bcm in 2035.

Current government forecasts suggest that gas will remain a vital part of the UK’s energy mix as we move towards Net Zero. As long as this demand exists, managing declining North Sea production to maximise value, minimising greenhouse gas emissions and reducing reliance on hydrocarbon imports are all essential.

The Emissions intensity comparison of UKCS gas production and imported LNG and pipeline gas benchmarking and analysis can be found on the OGA website by clicking here.