Illustration; Source: North Sea Transition Authority

Instead of killing ‘the golden goose,’ UK politicians urged to work with oil & gas industry for balanced transition

The North Sea Chapter of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) has written to parliamentarians across the UK, urging them to ignore “the political point scoring,” which has led to premature calls for the abandonment of the UK’s oil and gas industry.

Illustration; Source: North Sea Transition Authority

The North Sea drillers’ association has issued a letter to MPs at Westminster and Holyrood, following its appeal last month for the Scottish and UK governments – and all areas of the oil and gas industry – to cooperate to better effect and ensure the sector takes a balanced, long-term approach to the energy transition.

Related Article

In the letter to politicians, the association, representing more than 800 drilling companies across the globe including 14 contractors and more than 80 associates on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), reaffirmed its position that politicians and the oil and gas industry should work together to ensure “a long-term, balanced approach” to the energy transition.

Among other things, the letter underscores: “Today, the need for an energy transition is clear. Sadly, political point-scoring and vociferous flag-waving by some are leading to premature calls for the abandonment of our oil and gas industry. However, it is vital, that oil and gas and renewables work together for an orderly transition to take place.

“While we welcome the development of the renewables sector, there is a very real and pressing danger that if governments do not support our oil and gas industry during this transition, we risk irreparable damage to supply or indeed losing it forever.”

Commenting on this, Darren Sutherland, Chair of the IADC North Sea Chapter, remarked: “This letter is not a case of drillers causing fear and alarm in order to protect self-interest. 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.”

Furthermore, the group highlights that more vocal support from policymakers is required urgently to “avoid an imminent economic and energy supply catastrophe on a national scale,” outlining three key areas required to preserve the oil and gas industry.

The three pillars encompass “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 we do not de-risk investment in the North Sea, but rather kill the golden goose by rhetoric and stifling taxation;” and “an orderly” energy transition over a measured period with tangible goals.

“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,” concluded Sutherland.

Previously, the North Sea drillers’ association expressed 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.”