Fact-checking Claims about North Sea Oil and Gas


The UK government is defending a proposal to grant new annual licenses for fossil fuel drilling in the North Sea. The government argues this plan would be more environmentally friendly than importing oil and gas from overseas and would bolster the UK’s energy security. However, critics argue this could harm the UK’s standing on climate action.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho stated that liquified natural gas (LNG) imported from abroad has four times higher emissions than UK-produced gas. While this is true, most of the UK’s gas imports come via pipelines from Norway, which is cleaner than UK gas on average.

Coutinho also claimed the bill would enhance the UK’s energy security. However, there is no guarantee that additional domestic production would remain in the UK, as private companies extract it and sell it on the international market. Consequently, about 80% of the oil produced in the North Sea is exported.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband stated that the legislation under consideration would not reduce bills. He is correct, as oil and gas prices in the UK are influenced by global energy prices. Coutinho acknowledged that the plan would not necessarily lower energy bills but claimed it would generate significant tax revenue to fund public services.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) suggests that the best way to decrease reliance on imports and reduce bills is to promote renewables and other low carbon technologies to lessen the demand for fossil fuels.

Coutinho also mentioned that the UK would still use some oil and gas by 2050, according to CCC data. However, the CCC states that the UK’s demand for oil and gas needs to decrease by 80% by 2050 to meet its targets. The CCC does not support new UK oil and gas due to the need to transition away from fossil fuels to limit global warming.

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