Fossil Fuels and Transitions: The UK Maximising Economic Recovery Strategy and Low-Carbon Energy Transitions
The United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS), particularly the oil and gas activities in the North Sea have been and continue to be critical for the economic development and empowerment of the region. There has been a decline in oil & gas production in the North Sea caused by several factors, including the fall in global oil prices and the global transition towards a low-carbon energy future transition. Considering this, and questions of future energy security, the UK government adopted a strategy in 2016 to maximize the economic recovery (MER) and extract as much value as possible from the fields within the UKCS. The UK has to consider the MER strategy in light of the global energy transition, where energy supply is expected to transition from fossil fuels to low carbon sources with a view to accommodate the provisions of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change of 2015, the UK Climate Change Act 2008, the UK Carbon Plan, 2011 and the UK Clean Growth Strategy 2017. The UK therefore has to align its MER strategies with the strategies it presently has and will have to develop going forward on energy transition and the ambitious climate change objectives under the Paris Agreement and UK legislation and policies. The UK also has to take into account the likely impact of Brexit on its energy transition and climate change objectives, and the MER Strategy. This paper demonstrates that the successful implementation of the UK’s MER Strategy alongside achieving of the UK’s climate change obligations and energy transition targets will be challenging, and will require concerted sector-wide energy efficiency efforts and highly innovative low-carbon and emissions removal technology. Whether this is achievable will depend on the UK’s preparedness (both from policy and technological innovation) to offset the carbon emissions arising from the consumption of the oil and gas that will be recovered from the UKCS under the MER Strategy.
KeywordsOil & gas Maximising economic recovery strategy North Sea Low carbon energy transition
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