Why do we need
oil and gas?
Uses of oil and gas
Oil and gas are an essential energy source for the country, powering homes, vehicles and essential industries as well as providing feedstock to the UK Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries, producing innumerable products we use every day, from computers to detergent bottles. Oil and gas also play a role in medical products for treating everyday illnesses and injuries, including such things as hip replacement cement, dentures, cough medicines, antiseptic wipes, eye drops, sedatives, non-latex gloves etc.
And while we all support a move towards renewable energy sources, even the hardware required for the renewables industry – wind turbines and solar panels for example – rely on oil and gas for their production.
Fossil fuels and climate change
The UK is heavily reliant on hydrocarbons. Oil and gas are a part of our everyday way of life and is the source of many essential products we use all the time. While some would have us believe that we can switch to renewables overnight and ‘keep the lights on’, the reality is far more nuanced and complex.
There is a real part for renewables to play in the UK energy mix and wind, tidal and solar power, along with biomass and geothermal energy, can all play a role in helping to produce electricity to power our homes and businesses.
However, these energy sources are not able to act as a feedstock to produce the vast amount of materials that we rely on every day.
The UK’s energy businesses need to work together to create an energy portfolio which will provide the UK with a sustainable and secure energy source even when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
In June 2019, the UK government passed laws committing the UK to end its contribution to global warming by 2050 with a target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Whilst technological advances, electric vehicles, increased energy efficiency and energy from renewables will affect the way energy is produced and used in the future, oil and gas will remain significant contributors to the UK’s energy mix even when the net zero CO2 target is achieved.
Page 48 of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2019 published by BEIS, reports that the UK’s oil demand in 2018 was 59 million tonnes with the UKCS producing a total of 51 million tonnes (an import dependency of 13.66%). The Committee on Climate Change (“CCC”) estimates that in 2050 under the net zero scenario, oil demand in the UK will still be around 12 million tonnes (140 tWh as per CCC report) with c. 7% of this being imported (page 252).
The CCC states very clearly that offshoring of emissions is simply not acceptable.
“The design of the policy framework to reduce UK industry emissions must ensure it does not drive industry overseas, which would not help to reduce global emissions, and be damaging to the UK economy.”
Secure energy supply
Whilst the UK is consuming less energy than it did and more of the energy we are consuming is coming from renewable sources (up to 9% of the total consumed) at the same time, the decline in North Sea oil and gas production has meant the UK has become increasingly dependent on imports of energy.
We are now a net importer of oil and gas from other countries and our reliance on imported energy is at levels last seen in the 1970s.
Security of energy supply remains a key issue for the UK. The fact is that for the foreseeable future, all of us use and need oil and gas. Egdon’s work to produce oil and gas will help in a small way to provide the UK with secure energy supplies, reducing the need for imported oil and delivering economic benefits nationally and locally through taxation, business rates and use of local suppliers and services.