Oil and gas companies have been warned by their regulator to stop “navel gazing” and do much more to solve the challenges of climate change.
Tim Eggar, the chairman of the Oil & Gas Authority, said:
“Industry’s social licence to operate is under threat and there is no scope for a second chance.”
Speaking to company bosses, the former Conservative energy minister said the oil and gas industry was seen as part of the problem in the transition to net zero carbon emissions.
He did not specifically refer to onshore operators during his speech. But he said the entire industry had to do everything it could to contribute to legally-binding commitments on carbon emissions. He said:
“That applies to the OGA, and to every oil and gas operating and service company.”
Mr Eggar said oil and gas would remain critical parts of the UK energy mix for “the foreseeable future”. The country could not transition to net zero carbon emissions without gas, he said.
But he added that social media and the popular press saw the oil and gas industry as part of the problem not the solution.
“Industry’s licence to operate is under serious threat.
“Industry is not even really in the argument never mind winning it.
“It is, in my opinion, collectively not doing enough and its social licence to operation is under serious threat.”
Mr Eggar said:
“There has been too much navel gazing. We have to act much, much faster and go farther in reducing the carbon footprint.
“The oil and gas industry should be the leader in developing some of the solutions to tackling climate change, rather than continuously being seen as the problem or the blocker.”
There should be action, “not just talk or more analysis”, he said.
The industry needed to make real progress on carbon capture and storage by the time of the UN climate change conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in November 2020, Mr Eggar said.
It had to reduce production emissions, commit to clear measurable greenhouse gas targets and make real progress on methane emissions.
Mr Eggar said maximising economic recovery of oil and gas did not need to conflict with the transition to net zero. But transition needed involvement of the full workforce and supply chain.
He also suggested that the levy paid by companies to the OGA would increase to pay for extra work towards achieving net zero.