GOVERNMENTS must do much more to ensure technologies such as carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) are implemented at the pace needed if the UK is to meet its targets to reduce harmful emissions.

The call to action comes from Oil & Gas UK which has highlighted the potential to use the infrastructure and expertise developed in the North Sea to help tackle the problem of climate change.

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The industry body reckons the UK can make a significant impact on its emissions by using depleted North Sea reservoirs to store carbon.

However, in a report on the energy transition, it complained the UK has been contemplating CCUS for too long without acting amid a lack of strategic clarity in the official response.

“Development of this technology at scale is a fundamental requirement if the UK is to meet its net-zero obligations,” said Oil & Gas UK.

The report noted that industry players are working on five pilot CCUS projects including the Acorn scheme at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire.

“Urgent action is now needed to support their trail-blazing efforts to decarbonise industrial activity in the UK,” said the report.

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This could include providing funding for engineering studies and supporting the development of the commercial frameworks needed to govern the use of oil and gas assets.

The report found annual investment in the UK energy sector will need to double, to up to £50bn, with some impact on consumer bills likely.

Businesses should be able to cover the bulk of the costs involved with the right support. Oil and gas production will need to be maintained in the UK for decades to avoid over-reliance on imports while the required renewable energy capacity is developed.

However, Oil & Gas UK chief executive Deidre Michie said the sector will have to earn its position in the new energy world, cutting its own emissions and working with governments and regulators to progress the five CCUS projects.

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In April MPs accused the Westminster government of holding back the development of CCUS technology by failing to provide the clear policy direction required while focusing too much on the cost implications.

Last week the Scottish Government welcomed the launch of the North East Carbon Capture Usage and Storage partnership, which will encourage collaboration between businesses and academia.

Shell and North Sea-focused Chrysaor Energy are supporting Pale Blue Dot Energy’s Acorn project, which backers hope will be operational in 2024.

The project will involve pumping carbon dioxide from industrial processes into the Goldeneye reservoir offshore. Related facilities will be developed for the production of hydrogen from natural gas, for use as a low-carbon energy source.

In November 2015 the UK Government axed a £1bn competition under which a carbon capture project that Shell and SSE were developing at Peterhead was vying for funding.