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Climate change: North Sea oil companies like Shell and BP are getting into renewable energy and the industry accepts fundamental change is needed to combat climate change – Deirdre Michie
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Climate change: North Sea oil companies like Shell and BP are getting into renewable energy and the industry accepts fundamental change is needed to combat climate change – Deirdre Michie


17 new offshore wind farms will be created off the coast of this project. Scotland and it is set to massively boost the nation’s economy with opportunities to create a major supply chain sector. You might be surprised to find out that among the successful bidders was a traditional oil and natural gas giant like Shell or BP.

As Scotland attempts to reduce its carbon emissions, some have criticized the oil and gas industry. Its businesses are working hard to make changes from within. They diversify their energy sources and create a wider, cleaner and cheaper energy mix.

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Oil and gas companies don’t just lip service to environmental issues. Take the ScotWind project as an example; the successful bidders will pay a combined £700 million in fees that will be put towards public spending, with Shell and BP paying £86 million and £85.9 million respectively to develop offshore wind farms.

Oil and gas companies are investing heavily in the future of oil and gas.

If the oil and natural gas industry in Scotland receives the right support in diversifying, it will protect thousands of workers, families, and businesses that depend on it. The nation will also benefit from the valuable offshore skills it has accumulated over many decades in the energy sector.

There is a lot at stake. We have to ensure that the energy transition goes smoothly, so that the industry does not threaten the livelihoods for the 71,500 people living in Scotland.

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The marine engineering skills that North Sea oil workers have can be used to create offshore renewable energy systems (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA).

In the meantime, Scotland’s energy supply is heavily dependent upon oil and natural gas. Our research shows that oil and gas provides 78 per cent of Scotland’s total energy, which is actually higher than the UK average of 73 per cent.

We are fuelling cars, heating homes, keeping the economy running while ensuring we help to support Scotland’s security of supply. This is no easy task. The energy industry is facing huge challenges as it tries to address global supply issues, respond to rising oil prices, and support the energy transition.

ScotWind was just one of the major news stories for the industry. Last week, Brent crude oil reached $88 per barrel. All parts of the economy are affected by inflation, including end users. The nation is feeling the pinch of higher energy costs.

Scotland’s oil and gas industry is doing all that it can to help alleviate the pressure on end users and keep the power running, despite all the supply issues we are facing.

The energy transition is well underway and we are diversifying our energy mix to include cleaner sources, but it is a challenging process – one that needs to be done quickly but carefully.

Oil and gas account for a large portion of the economy. Many communities in Scotland, including Aberdeen, are dependent on this industry. We must do right by our oil and gas workers and ensure they aren’t left high and dry, but instead see their crucial skills acknowledged and respected and retained as the industry evolves.

This is a business necessity too. These workers have experience in managing technologies and working in offshore environments.

While we need to move quickly, we shouldn’t put an end to an industry that we will continue to use for a long time. It is critical that the energy transition is homegrown and boosts, rather than undermines, Scotland’s economy. That’s why developments like ScotWind and the North Sea Transition DealThey are so vital.

The oil and gas sector recognizes that fundamental changes are needed to meet national climate targets. In fact, this sector was one of the first in proactively setting ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions through investments in cleaner production and new energy technologies like carbon capture and storage or decommissioning.

Our commitment is clear and we have a lot of solutions to offer. It’s vital that we are included in helping to drive the energy transition forward.

All of us must work together to find a way forward that is both economic and environmentally sound, and that also ensures that Scotland has reliable energy supplies that we can all rely on.

It’s been a challenging few months for the industry and I’d personally like to thank everyone involved in the sector for their resilience and commitment to doing the right thing.

Our oil and gas community needs everyone’s positive support as they invest in Scotland’s cleaner energy future.

The inspiring example of international cooperation to address climate change was displayed at the COP26 United Nations climate change conference.

Let’s come together domestically too and support Scotland’s oil and gas industry in their efforts to help deliver the cleaner energy transition that we all need.

Deirdre Michie is chief executive of OGUK, the leading representative body for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry

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