THE North Sea oil and gas industry could help the United Kingdom achieve the bulk of the emissions reductions needed if the country is to meet its target to achieve net zero by 2050 a report has found.

The findings of a report published by the Oil and Gas Authority highlight the potential to use the assets and expertise developed by North Sea firms to support the transition to a lower carbon energy system.

This would involve the development of an integrated offshore energy system that combines oil and gas operations with renewable energy generation and carbon capture, storage and usage technology.

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Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said the report highlighted the ways in which the offshore energy sector has the capacity to help deliver huge carbon reductions.

“Sharing existing expertise and infrastructure from the oil and gas industry will be integral in the development of our outstanding renewable energy sector, helping us meet our climate change commitments,” he said.

By way of example, the Oil and Gas Authority noted oil and gas industry firms could play an important role in the development of assets such as floating windfarms.

Oil and gas reservoirs and related infrastructure could be used in carbon capture projects that would also be linked to the production of so-called blue hydrogen from natural gas.

The electrification of offshore oil and gas platforms could help achieve significant reductions in the sector’s production emissions, while supporting the expansion of windpower in new areas.

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The report notes the economic production of green hydrogen from seawater could help deliver significant reductions. It will depend on the costs of the electrolyser technology involved being reduced.

Oil and Gas Authority chief executive Andy Samuel said: “The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) has the potential to make a deep and meaningful impact on the UK’s overall net zero target and offshore energy integration can be the game changer."

The report found the integration of offshore energy systems could contribute to deliver approximately 30% of the UK’s total carbon reduction requirements needed to meet the 2050 net zero target for greenhouse gas emissions.

Offshore renewables, including wind, wave and tidal energy, could contribute around a further 30%.

The report was published in collaboration with Ofgem, The Crown Estate and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.