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by Staff reporter
31 August 2022
New row over North Sea oil and gas fields amidst cost-of-living crisis

Liz Truss speaking at the Conservative leadership hustings in Perth

New row over North Sea oil and gas fields amidst cost-of-living crisis

A new political row is developing between the Scottish and UK governments over North Sea oil and gas.

The Scottish Government has spoken out against large-scale extraction of fossil fuels following reports that Liz Truss will approve up to 130 new drilling licences in one of her first acts as prime minister if she is elected to succeed Boris Johnson on Monday.

It is further understood that Truss would seek further investment in existing sites from oil and gas companies to maximise production in a step aimed at reducing the costs of energy for consumers.

Russian imports accounted for four per cent of gas, nine per cent of oil and 27 per cent of coal used in the UK last year. The imports are worth a total of £4.5bn but no such imports have been made from Russia since June amidst its war on Ukraine.

However, the Scottish Government has said that new fields are not a "timely solution" to the cost-of-living hike against the backdrop of the climate crisis. A spokesperson said: "Unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is not consistent with our climate obligations."

The spokesperson said that position is supported by the UK and Scottish governments' statutory advisers on climate change and "Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine only serves to highlight the importance of accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources".

Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell has called for "radical action, not more climate vandalism from the Tories". He said: "We are approaching the end of the age of oil and gas and the next prime minister must plan accordingly. That means revoking the Cambo [field] licences and ensuring no new oil and gas licences whatsoever."

However, Ross Dornan of offshore industries trade body OEUK said: "The UK will never produce more oil and gas than it needs. The industry is in long term decline and only half of UK demand is met from domestic resources.

"We're not calling for unlimited extraction, but rather the long term, sensible and responsible management of production in line with how demand will evolve. This will help us to manage our energy supplies effectively as we transition over time to a lower carbon energy system.

"The UK's own oil and gas production brings us some energy security by limiting our import dependence. 

"New licensing and investment will mean the UK can manage its reliance on imports in the future and become less susceptible to global market shocks."


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