MPs call for ban on oil and gas industry flaring by 2025

A cross-party committee of MPs has called for flaring on UK oil and gas fields to be banned in the next two years.

Flare at Preston New Road, 13 October 2019. Photo: Sue Underwood

The Environmental Audit Committee, in a report published this morning, called for faster action from the oil and gas industry to cut operational emissions by 68% in the current decade, in line with government commitments under the Paris Agreement.

It said:

“Oil and gas companies must accelerate their efforts to electrify offshore platforms, stop flaring and address methane leakage.”

The report said the industry regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), should ban outright the routine flaring of waste gas:

“We recommend that the Government introduces an amendment to the Energy Bill to provide for a total prohibition on flaring from installations in the UK’s jurisdiction to be introduced not later than the end of 2025.

“This would help ensure the UK fulfils commitments it made at COP26 and COP27 under the Global Methane Pledge.”

“Weak targets”

The committee said targets to cut upstream emissions, set under the North Sea Transition Deal, were “weak” and lacked “the urgent and transformative action”, which the government’s climate change advisor said was required:

“there appear to be few sanctions available to the North Sea Transition Authority in the event that companies do not achieve the production emissions targets they have agreed to meet.”

It added:

“The oil and gas industry has been aware of the contribution of its activities to man-made climate change since the 1990s, or earlier. A responsible industry should have been working to clean up its operations with far greater urgency than this timescale suggests. The Government needs to push the industry to go further and faster than its current approach.”

The committee recommended:

  • The NSTA should review the targets in the North Sea Transition Deal
  • The government should set mandatory, rather than voluntary targets, if there was insufficient progress on ending methane emissions from oil and gas operations by 2027
  • Oil and gas companies operating in the UK should report annual on progress on decarbonising operations
  • The NSTA should publish a league table of the best and worst performing companies
  • The NSTA should insist on the electrification of all new oil and gas projects approved under the current 33rd onshore licensing round.

Licensing end date

The committee also said there should be an end date for oil and gas licensing rounds:

“To show its continued commitment to climate leadership, we recommend that the government consult on setting a clear date for ending new oil and gas licensing rounds in the North Sea: this date should fall well before 2050.”

It said the date should be based on the oil and gas production currently being planned by the UK and other producer states and on the remaining global carbon budget if temperatures are to be limited to 1.5°C.

“Clear rebuke”

The fossil fuel free campaign group, Uplift, said “calling out the oil and gas industry’s foot-dragging over emissions” was long-overdue.

It described the committee’s report as a “clear rebuke” of the government’s “outdated and costly approach to energy”.

The group’s public affairs manager, Gwen Buck, said:

“Banning flaring and toughening emission reduction targets are reasonable, common sense asks that the government should adopt, given the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.

“It is welcome that the committee has called for an end date for new oil and gas licensing, but the government must go further and set an end date for all North Sea production, not just licences. The committee received powerful evidence from experts, like the International Energy Agency, who firmly said that any new oil and gas supply creates a ‘clear risk’ of breaching safe climate limits.

“What’s heartening as we start this new year is the clear message from Parliament that the only route to a safe and secure energy supply that’s in our control is to speed up the transition away from oil and gas.”

The Weald Action Group, which campaigns against onshore oil and gas operations in southern England, described as “completely inadequate” the recommendation on an end date for new oil and gas licensing before 2050 .

The group’s Kirsty Clough said:

“There must be an immediate moratorium placed on new offshore and onshore oil and gas development now.

“The further exploitation of UK oil and gas reserves will not relieve short term supply constraints; will perpetuate our dependence on fossil fuels thereby continuing to expose us to fluctuating global oil and gas prices; and, in the absence of a worldwide cap on fossil fuel extraction, will contribute to the climate crisis.”

“Spur to net zero”

The committee said ending reliance on fossil fuels would “spur net zero and low-carbon generation” and reduce exposure to the energy price crisis, provoked by the war in Ukraine.

The Conservative chair of the committee, Philip Dunne, said:

“Fossil fuels have helped keep our homes warm, power our cars and generate the majority of our electricity. Britain will continue to need to access fossil fuel supplies during the Net Zero transition.

“But Government should consult on setting an end date for licencing oil and gas from the North Sea. We can accelerate this transition by fully harnessing our abundant renewable energy resources, including tidal energy that can deliver a reliable year-round source of clean electricity, and by upgrading our energy inefficient buildings.”

The committee said the government’s British Energy Security Strategy set out ambitions for low-carbon electricity generation but “significant gaps” remained. It should have “placed far greater emphasis on energy saving measures”.

There should be a “war effort” on home insulation and energy efficiency to cut household energy bills, cut carbon emissions and reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports, the committee said.

Ministers had “missed a window of opportunity to accelerate energy efficiency installations in the warmer months of 2022”.

Part of the energy profits levy (windfall tax) should be allocated immediately to help fund energy efficiency improvements, the committee said.

It called for:

  • Greater focus on a rapid short-term rollout of onshore wind and tidal energy
  • Developers to be required to fit solar panels on homes to meet the government target
  • Consultation by the Department of Transport to improve energy security, reduce oil demand and cut carbon emissions from transport.

The committee also called for an update of the British Energy Security Strategy in Spring 2023 showing what progress had been made on securing energy supplies and improving energy efficiency.

9 replies »

  1. “Licensing end date”?

    Hmm, looks as if they have already achieved that with the largest operator in the N.Sea stating they will not take part in the current round as the Government have already made exploration unattractive.

    Never mind, imports can come from those jurisdictions where exploration is attractive and the same MPs can then cackle about insufficient UK funds to fund public services, and then raise taxation upon the individual-whilst same individual pays through the nose for energy. In between, MPs can consider their employment going forward having failed in their current jobs.

    I noticed yesterday, BP to increase investment in USA, including on shore and a call from US Government for increased activity to reduce US prices! Goodness, must be a mirage as “we” are all told there is one world market and local production can not influence local price, with the highest bidder holding sway. [Edited by moderator]

    • MARTIN ,

      For all the frantic , out of control , relentless Fracking in the USA ..

      Last year 2022 , American consumers still had the highest fuel prices in history .

      YES , I did say the HIGHEST IN HISTORY.

      So much for Fracking bringing down energy costs .

      OH DEAR , the US government calling for cheaper energy for consumers , MORE SOUND BITES , where’ve we heard that one before???? ………. If Fracking companies and their investors don’t give a DAMN about public health , climate change and the environment , do you honestly think they are going to bring down energy costs just to help the US consumer ??????????.

      Or maybe JACKS missed something here , maybe Fracking companies are loveable, friendly, kind and considerate businesses , that run for the benefit of the poor and needy ….

      Maybe they operate like a sort of charity 🤔 🤣🤣

  2. Yes, you have missed something Jack-but deliberately so, which is your choice but you really are not that silly-are you?

    $7 and now falling, $5.50 average for November, is a lot less than $47. So, with fracking $7 peak for USA, without fracking $47 for Europe. All within there only being “one international gas market”, so scrub my earlier question mark!

    Jack, perhaps you need to be a candidate for Rishi’s math class, but I already know $7 is a lot less than $47. So does my grandson, who is two. Indeed, if USA had not been exporting so much to take advantage of those who needed to pay $47, then their domestic $7 would have been less (source: EIA). Up to the USA government to decide how to direct that export windfall, but I suspect much will go into a few pockets unless they do so. Hence BP looking to expand their investment in US on-shore. Other businesses will follow who see gas at $7 going to $4, whilst companies such as Volkswagen warn investment in Europe will be “practically unviable” unless energy prices adjust quickly, whilst analysts forecast not likely for 6 years!

    How is UK doing? Oh yes, data from Refinitiv Eikon showed “we” imported around 11B (bcm) of gas from US in the first 11 months of 2022, up from 4B (bcm) in 2021.

    Looks as if UK is being very charitable to USA Jack! Sat on a pile of gas, don’t want to extract it, so buying gas from USA at high prices from same sort of production techniques, but lower standards, and then adding to maritime transport emissions, whilst stating what “we” will do will be followed by others! Charity can be the only logical excuse. However, charity should begin at home, Jack.

    • MARTIN ,

      YOUR above numbers mean SWEET NOTHING without evidence…… Time to show your evidence, or is this just more of your legendary ” Collywaffle ” ?????????

      Let’s keep this nice and simple . In the USA , the Frackland capital of the world , where anything goes and Fracking companies rule the roost..

      In the year 2022 , American citizens had the HIGHEST energy bills in HISTORY ….. So much for Fracking bringing down energy cost for consumers.


      • Jack, the average price of gas (gasoline) across the USA at $5 (£4.13) a gallon highlighted in your link, still seems cheap compared to what we pay for a gallon of petrol.

        However the difference between $7 on the Henry hub in the USA and $47 on the NBP in the UK, per MMBTu (One million British Thermal Units) of natural gas, witnessed during the summer of 2022, highlighted even greater, how much less American’s pay for their energy.

  3. I have shown the evidence, Jack. Others have supported my evidence having checked whether I was correct.

    Quite simple to do, whilst you pretend you are incapable of doing so. In other words, Jack, you are letting the readers know how poor you are at doing any research of any worth.

    You are simply left trying to deny-a true denier-what are facts, in your silly attempt to distort and deny the truth.

    A great advertisement for the antis. Don’t like the reality so deny or distort it.

    Meanwhile, for those who want me to take advantage of your prompting for more proof. I will even supply the text to save the trouble of following a link:

    “Despite the cold temperatures, the agency (EIA) predicts natural gas prices (in USA) will begin declining after January as US storage levels move closer to the previous five year average, largely as a result of rising US natural gas production.”

    So, the big increase in exports will be countered by further increased production and domestic prices will fall as a result. Inconvenient truth there, Jack, against your weird market analyses but I think I will believe the EIA, not you. US production apparently influences US prices. Shock/horror-to Jack. Laws of supply and demand and price to most others.

    “Natural gas spot prices at Henry Hub likely will exceed $6.00 an MMBtu in the first quarter of 2023, up from November’s monthly average of $5.50, EIA projects. The agency (EIA) attributes the increase to higher winter natural gas demand and rising LNG exports.”

    So, those good old US frackers are fracking away and helping to supply more and more to the export market to help out the useful idiots. Of course the US administration could apply an export ban if they so desired and thus decrease domestic gas prices quicker, but have instead taken the approach of pushing for further increased production to achieve the same. With a peak of $7 instead of $47 they have a lot of head-room to work with. The Americans have rarely looked such a gift horse in the mouth. (Oops, that should enable Jack to tell us about horses, as he did about livestock production. LOL. Should be “entertaining”!)

    Wonder how much flaring in USA European demand will produce??

    • MARTIN ,

      You have shown ZERO evidence.

      You never back up any of your comments with any evidence.

      Your OPINION has been duly noted and filed in my filing cabinet under the letter ” C ” for Collywaffle .

      Now we’ve established that Fracking , financially has done nothing to help the ordinary American citizen , shall we now start debating the serious health problems , environmental problems and sharp drop in home values that US citizens are experiencing as a result of living in close proximity to a Fracking site ????????

  4. Sorry Jack, that is incorrect. Or, just fake news.

    You can bury your head in the sand and try and claim you are unaware, but to do so in the face of evidence from myself, from sources provided and from other posters is just silly. It highlights your inability to examine the wider picture, and your attempt to distort obvious facts into your own nonsense. All very Edward Lear, but a bit out of place within a serious discussion.

    You have established that you just deny facts, Jack. You plonk stuff out on the Internet which is incorrect and structured to distort. When shown to be so, just ignore the facts and deny they exist. You are consistent, in that is your attempt after each thread you have engaged with. Almost robotic, certainly very predictable.

    As far as the “average American” citizen, fracking has indeed helped. So has US fracking helped every citizen around the world by reducing world prices, mainly for oil, over recent years as the largest importer of fossil fuel became one of the largest exporters. Anyone can look back at the attempts that OPEC made with price cutting to react, and what that did to world prices. Once again Jack, your statement is false. OPEC lost the argument having thrown $billions at it, Jack.

    I have already debated your nonsense about your last paragraph. Property values are dropping sharply in UK currently Jack where people are struggling to pay their energy bills and mortgages at the same time. Perhaps if you had any idea what is happening in the UK you would not make such silly statements? Nice of you to join in but your research is non existent. Good job the wise old owls have done their research and are immune to your attempts at re-education.

    Had a great day with my two year old grandson yesterday, Jack. He can already understand 7 is a lot less than 47. Seems most of the UK Unions can understand similar math Jack. You have no excuse. You are just trying to defend a fake position you created and the more you do so the more you demonstrate that is all you do, repeatedly.

    But, 7 is still a lot less than 47. No amount of denying will change that.

  5. ahhhhh, Gwen Buck from Uplift has 7 years of social governance and change work experience… 7 years the charm!! How is she going to cook her dinner by wax candle??

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