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MSP Fergus Ewing: Producing more drops our carbon footprint as it’s clear that ‘we will continue to need oil and gas for decades to come while transitioning to renewable methods of providing energy’


By Fergus Ewing


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Fergus Ewing.
Fergus Ewing.

As convener of the oil and gas group, I was delighted to bring together five former ministers to make a shared declaration on the need for supporting our vital oil and gas industry.

Amber Rudd, Charles Hendry, Brian Wilson and I are all former energy ministers, while Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, was former secretary of state for Scotland.

It’s clear that we will continue to need oil and gas in the world for decades to come while transitioning to renewable methods of providing energy. In fact, oil and gas is deployed for example in the energy in smelting of steel for wind turbines. In addition, anaesthetic drugs are complex hydrocarbons – which are refined from oil – as are hundreds of household products we take for granted.

Our central argument was that in meeting the UK and Scottish governments net zero targets, the new techniques of carbon capture are essential. And these new techniques are ones which can only really be delivered by the people in the oil and gas industry – people possessing skills in drilling and many other areas.

For the only places to store captured carbon are depleted oil and gas fields and aquifers. Attempts to store below ground onshore have been met with strong protests such that governments will look to offshore storage as a solution.

The five of us reached agreement on the terms of the declaration and this has now got the support both from industry and trades union representatives.

The aim is to persuade governments – the Scottish Government to recognise the need to continue to retain the vital skills and supply chain capacity in our oil and gas sector which is recognised across the world as first class; the UK government to boost carbon capture in particular by progressing the ACORN project which did not get their initial support.

And all governments in streamlining and simplifying the regulatory process. That involves a plethora of public bodies and needs one to be appointed in the lead and the others to comply with tight deadlines – otherwise we will not make the swift transition to net zero that people want.

The industry has reached agreement called the North Sea Transition Deal which aims to cut emissions by half by 2030. Already they have cut by 15 per cent their total emissions. And gas produced in the North Sea has a much lower carbon footprint than imported LNG – about one third of that. So more gas produced in the North Sea means less reliance on carbon intensive products from Qatar and elsewhere.

Producing more of our own reduces our carbon footprint.


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