By Deirdre Michie, Oil and Gas UK

YOU might be surprised to hear that the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry welcomed the Climate Change Committee (CCC) report on net zero published last month.

In a challenging and sometimes daunting world it’s easier, and even comforting, to find a villain to blame for all our woes.

When it comes to climate change the stark reality for us all is that hiding our heads under the covers won’t make the problem go away. We need to deal in evidence and find solutions. We know that across the world, energy demand continues to intensify and by 2035 will have grown by 30 per cent. At the same time, we all want to lower our carbon footprint.

Production from the UK offshore oil and gas industry meets just over half of UK gas demand and 67 per cent of oil consumed. The gap between what we produce and what we need to heat our homes and fuel our cars is made up from imports, shipped and piped from around the world.

As a mature and declining basin, the gap between domestic supply and imports is only set to grow, with future UK demand for oil and gas expected to be more than double what the UK industry can produce. It might seem surprising, but rather than being in competition with renewables, the UK is competing with oil and gas basins across the world.

It’s why the CCC report talked about “energy sovereignty” and the need to make up that demand from domestic resources while we transition to a lower carbon future, continuing to provide a secure, affordable energy as we transition to lower carbon technologies.

Our industry, with so many talented engineers, data scientists, and more, is committed to showing leadership and offering solutions to lower our carbon impact.

First, in reducing the carbon footprint of our energy demand by promoting the use of hydrogen as a lower carbon fuel. Second, re-using our offshore infrastructure, our geological expertise and our world class supply chain to capture carbon dioxide, what is known as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage. The CCC report said this technology is “crucial to the delivery of zero greenhouse gases and strategically important to the UK”. Our industry stands by ready to play a leading role in support of this. Both will enable sensible use of hydrocarbons.

Third, while oil and gas platforms in other countries are powered from the grid using a proportion of renewables, oil and gas platforms in the UK generate their own energy, which in turn produces emissions. In 2017 the total UK shelf emissions accounted for 3% of the UK total. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint. The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has an important, if not fundamental, role to play in the journey towards a lower carbon economy. Already we know that coal to gas switching has made a significant contribution to reduce the UK’s footprint over time, alongside wider efforts to ensure efficient use of energy.

We need a managed and comprehensive transition towards a lower carbon future which looks at supply and demand, brings industries and minds together to find solutions to the problems we will face. What the facts and evidence show is that simply portraying the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry as the villain might make some feel better for a while, but it won’t solve what is a much greater challenge, one we can help lead the way with.

Deirdre Michie is chief executive of UK Oil and Gas.