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Monday, July 15, 2024

UK set to issue new oil, gas licenses in North Sea to secure energy reserves

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LONDON, United Kingdom—The UK government said Monday it would issue “hundreds” of new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea to secure energy reserves while still aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Investment in the North Sea will continue to unlock new projects, protect jobs, reduce emissions and boost UK energy independence,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said in a statement.

It added that “a more flexible application process” would be applied for the license requests, which would still be subject to a “climate compatibility” test for carbon reduction goals.

“The government is taking steps to slow the rapid decline in domestic production of oil and gas, which will secure our domestic energy supply and reduce reliance on hostile states,” it said.

Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, launched in February 2022, saw a global surge in energy prices as Western nations imposed sanctions against Moscow, targeting in particular its massive oil and gas exports.

“We have all witnessed how Putin has manipulated and weaponized energy — disrupting supply and stalling growth in countries around the world,” Sunak said in the statement, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Now more than ever, it’s vital that we bolster our energy security and capitalize on that independence to deliver more affordable, clean energy.”

A study released Monday by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) said the carbon footprint from domestic UK gas production was one-fourth the footprint from imported liquefied natural gas.

It also confirmed plans to build two more carbon-capture facilities along the North Sea coast, at Acorn in northeast Scotland and Viking near Humber, England, alongside two already under construction.

It said the four clusters could support up to 50,000 jobs by 2030.

Sunak is due to visit later Monday an energy infrastructure site in Aberdeenshire to “highlight the central role the region will play in strengthening the UK’s energy independence and meet the next generation of skilled apprentices key to driving this work forward”.

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