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Denmark bans new oil and gas exploration

Denmark – now the largest oil producer in the European Union – has announced it will end all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea as part of its wider plan to cease fossil fuel extraction by 2050. 

There are 55 oil platforms located across 20 oil and gas fields on the Danish continental shelf in the North Sea. France’s Total is responsible for production in 15 of these fields, while the UK’s INEOS operates in three. The remaining two are the responsibilities of US and German firms.

In 2019, Denmark produced 103,000 barrels of oil per day – making it the second-largest EU producer after the UK. Brexit has since rendered it the bloc’s top oil producer. Danish oil and gas production is predicted to increase in the coming years, before peaking in 2028 and 2026, respectively.

‘This is a watershed moment,’ says Helene Hagel, Head of Climate and Environmental Policy at Greenpeace Denmark. ‘Denmark will now set an end date to oil and gas production and bid farewell to the future licensing rounds for oil in the North Sea, so the country can assert itself as a green frontrunner and inspire other countries to end our dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels.’

According to the country’s energy ministry, the decision to ban new oil and gas exploration will cost about 13bn kroner, or just over £1bn. However, it notes that this figure is subject to a degree of uncertainty.

Denmark has long been considered one of the world’s most climate-progressive states. In 2009, its majority state-owned energy firm – then called Danish Oil and Natural Gas – announced it was adopting an ‘85/15’ energy production strategy. The plan aimed to change the company’s generation mix from 85% fossil fuels and 15% renewables to the precise inverse.

In 2017, Danish Oil and Natural Gas rebranded as Ørsted and sold off its oil and gas fields. The company is now the world’s largest producer of offshore wind capacity. It aims for all its power generation to be net zero by 2025.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: Denmark -

Subjects: Oil and gas exploration - Decarbonisation -

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