By Mark Williamson

OIL & Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie has insisted the industry can help tackle climate change but admitted it needs to clean up its act in the North Sea.

Ms Michie said the industry body had set out a clear plan for how oil and gas firms could help in the effort to reduce carbon emissions to zero, net of amounts absorbed, in its Roadmap 2035 report.

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The strategy will involve helping maximise the potential of new energy sources and carbon capture technology while reducing the emissions associated with the production of the oil and gas that will be needed to support the economy.

“ Roadmap 2035 offers a credible plan of action towards a successful future,” Ms Michie told a conference on health, safety and the environment in Aberdeen.

Highlighting the role played by activists such as Greta Thunberg in raising awareness of climate change, she added: “Our message remains - we can be, and must be, part of the solution.”

However, Ms Michie conceded: “While we continue to manage and reduce emissions from production operations, we know there is much more to be done in a world which rightly demands change at an ever-increasing pace.”

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She noted the Health and Safety Report published by Oil & Gas UK last week had underlined the need for the industry to improve its performance.

“While there are ongoing improvements in aviation safety, there is much more to be done to reduce major hydrocarbon releases,” said Ms Michie. “

The report noted the number of confirmed major releases increased to four last year, after plateauing at two. Oil & Gas UK did not disclose further details.

“If left unaddressed, this situation could change from progress stalled to progress reversed,” the report warned.

Ms Michie said Oil & Gas UK had developed a robust release prevention plan with the regulator and other specialists, “with actions underway or under consideration across people, processes and plant”.

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On worker safety the report noted: “2018 was the second consecutive year without a fatality and the longer-term rolling reportable non-fatal injury rate continues to fall.”