Comment: New North Sea oil and gas licences issued

'Claims around the North Sea and energy security are essentially a red herring', says ECIU's Jess Ralston

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By George Smeeton

Information on this page correct as of:

Commenting on the news that 24 new North Sea licences have been offered in the second tranche of the 33rd oil and gas licensing round, bringing the total so far to 51 [1], Jess Ralston, analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: "Insulating homes, installing heat pumps, putting more EVs on the roads and building more renewables would all drive down the amount of oil and gas we need to import and make the UK more energy independent. But the Government’s track record on these is mixed, for example by failing to secure new offshore wind farms at its auction last year. Claims around the North Sea and energy security are essentially a red herring. Most of what is left in the North Sea is oil, and we export 80% of that, with oil and gas companies selling it on international markets to the highest bidder.

"New licenses in the North Sea supplying the UK would generate less than 1% of a tank of petrol and there's simply not enough gas to move the dial on international gas prices to reduce household bills. Reducing our demand altogether is the best way to secure energy independence, as the International Energy Agency has pointed out."


Notes to editors:

  1. NSTA: 24 licences offered in second tranche of 33rd oil and gas licensing round:
  2. Recent ECIU analysis found that the North Sea oil industry’s role in Britain’s energy independence is set to weaken further, and that oil from new licences sent to UK refineries would account for less than 1% of the fuels used in the UK in 2030:
  3. Further ECIU analysis found that by 2030, when some newly licenced North Sea fields could be producing oil, electric cars are likely to be cutting foreign imports for petrol by as much as new licences could, and potentially more so if EV sales surge:

For more information or for interview requests:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: +44 (0)7894 571 153, email: