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Oil Refinery

Net-zero energy: How oil and gas fits in.

What does the UK’s 2050 commitment to net-zero carbon emissions mean for oil & gas? Read our blog on the opportunities nationally and beyond for a low-carbon world.

‘Put a tiger in your tank.’ The public face of oil and gas looks very different today from the end of the last century, when this popular slogan reappeared. The UK’s 2050 commitment to net-zero carbon emissions will spur wider change. What does Theresa May’s legacy mean for the North Sea? The answer is new opportunities nationally and beyond for a low-carbon world.

The UK is the first of the G7 group to legally commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Net zero means no greenhouse gas emissions or those generated being balanced by offset schemes. By amending the Climate Change Act, and leading the Paris pact, the impetus moves to exploring all greener energy options.

A spotlight on North Sea waters

The reality is that the UK will need its resources of liquefied petroleum and natural gas today, tomorrow and beyond 2050. On the energy argument alone, renewable technologies have some way to go, especially with storage. When the wind stops blowing, a nation still demands power and increasingly so. The nuclear energy route is expensive, with several perceived barriers to further development. Then, there are the essential by-products of the petroleum industry to consider. From fertilizer to flooring, insecticides to perfume, and our pharmaceuticals. Aspirin, anybody?

Opportunities alongside the challenges

While the complexities of decarbonisation can seem like a big headache, solutions for oil and gas are emerging. The industry has a clear role to play in moving towards a low-carbon economy.

As a technical specialist, Lloyd’s Register is committed to supporting the energy industry with its green initiatives. Recent work includes an in-depth, cross-disciplinary study for the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). The ‘Energy Integration’ report explores upstream opportunities in UK waters to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This includes current possibilities through platform electrification and wider opportunities, which go beyond the now to support the UK’s 2050 pledge. Solutions include marrying oil and gas infrastructure and depleted fields with evolving carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology; costly at the moment, but who knows in a few years’ time. The future may even see the industry move into hydrogen production and storage, or be part of integrated energy hubs with offshore wind farms. Cross-sector collaboration is key to future success. These topics will be discussed in more detail in future blogs.

The ideas in the OGA report shouldn’t be restricted to the UK Continental Shelf, but explored globally. Speed is of the essence. Many of these greener solutions must be embraced over the next decade or so to see a return on investment over a field’s remaining life. Others will best suit new, large-scale projects or where fresh collaborations are possible, so these new ideas need to be built into field development plans. Rapid change is required anyway if investment, the lifeblood of any business, is to continue to flow. The investment market and shareholders will increasingly place sustainability first as 2050 approaches. Lloyd’s Register is ready to help show how oil and gas entities, both large and smaller, can take an active part in the energy transition to a low-carbon economy.

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