22 January 2022

Lord Offord of Garvel uses maiden speech to highlight continued role of oil and gas for energy transition

The UK government Minister for Scotland addressed net zero, oil and gas and the North Sea Transition Deal.

Oil rig
© Nathan Forbes/Unsplash

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord used his maiden speech in the House of Lords. He was responding to a question on what steps the UK government has taken to ensure that subsidies and licensing decisions related to the oil and gas industry are not subject to undue influence from outside interests.

He noted that Scotland contributes 60% of the UK wind generation plus 40% of the 160,000 highly skilled jobs already working in Energy across the UK. All while contributing just 8% of the population and 33% of UK geography.

‘However,’ he said, ‘we must remember that a key word in this climate debate is ‘transition’ and that it’s to net zero not to zero carbon. With 35% of the UK’s Energy needs in 2050 still coming from carbon (halved from 75% today), we would be foolhardy and irresponsible to ditch our world-class oil and gas sector in the North Sea to then increase our carbon footprint by importing inefficiently from Russia and Qatar.’

He described the North Sea Transition Deal as an exemplar in the G7 of an industry working in partnership with government to ensure net zero is met by 2050. ‘By 2030, the cashflow generated in oil and gas will contribute £15bn long term investment into renewables. And by 2030, the UK offshore energy sector will support 200,000 high-quality jobs of which two thirds will be in low carbon.’

He answered the question by saying the UK government does not give subsidies to fossil fuel companies and licences are awarded by independent regulator Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) within the framework of achieving net zero by 2050.

He added, ‘In closing this debate, may I be quite clear that {the government] does not believe that decarbonising our economy means shutting down the oil and gas industry as soon as possible.’