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IADC North Sea Chapter calls for UK politicians to take action for orderly energy transition

Parliamentarians across the UK have been urged to ignore the “political point scoring” that has led to premature calls for the abandonment of the UK’s oil and gas industry.

The call came in a letter from the IADC North Sea Chapter (NSC) to members of parliament in London and Edinburgh after the group’s “encouraging” discussions with members of Westminster’s British Offshore Oil and Gas Industry All Party Parliamentary Group about the future of the industry.

In the letter to politicians, the NSC reaffirmed its position that politicians and the oil and gas industry work together to ensure a long-term, balanced approach to the energy transition. However, more vocal support from policymakers is required to “avoid an imminent economic and energy supply catastrophe on a national scale,” the letter stated. It outlined three key areas required to preserve the oil and gas industry:

  • A mature, pragmatic, joined up and long-term approach to the UK’s energy provision;
  • A recognition of the impending energy crisis that the public will face if investment in the North Sea is not de-risked and instead the golden goose is killed by rhetoric and stifling taxation; and
  • An orderly energy transition over a measured period with tangible goals.

“This letter is not a case of drillers causing fear and alarm in order to protect self-interest,” said NSC Chair Darren Sutherland. “There is a real danger that the UK will be left without the resources and talent to make the energy transition a reality safely, swiftly and securely if we do not sit up and take notice now.

“We were encouraged by our visit to Westminster to speak to the All Party Parliamentary Group, and we left London with a sense of optimism. However, it is crucial that – regardless of political beliefs – everyone acts now, and in the best interests of the United Kingdom, to ensure a secure supply of energy as we make that transition.”

The NSC had previously voiced its concerns about a migration of drilling rigs and equipment to other basins, reducing the drilling and decommissioning capability in the North Sea.

In its letter to all 779 politicians of all parties, IADC voiced concerns about these rigs – and possibly more – being lost for good. The letter states: “As the industry body for the drilling contractor community, we are particularly concerned about drilling rigs, uniquely designed for the North Sea, leaving our waters unlikely to return. Drilling rigs are the ‘tip of the spear’ responsible for drilling the oil and gas wells required to support production. These rigs are also vital to the decommissioning of the hundreds of wells that need to be removed from the UKCS. Reduction in the available fleet size will severely hamper all of the above.”

Mr Sutherland added: “While it will ultimately lead to a reduction in the amount of drilling we undertake in the North Sea, like everyone else, we welcome the development of the renewables sector. However, given there are operators already planning to leave the region, or at the very least curtail investment, the importance of the transition taking place in an orderly manner that will protect jobs, the economy and our energy security cannot be stressed enough.”

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