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UK gas production could fall 75% by 2030 without new investment
The global gas shortage that sent prices surging again in early October is a powerful reminder of the UK’s need to maintain its own North Sea supplies, according to OGUK.
On 5 October, wholesale gas prices soared 37% in just one day, hitting £4 per therm in short-term global markets (equivalent to £1.41/m3) – a 700% increase compared with more typical levels at the start of 2021.
Factors causing the latest surge include Russia making a 70% reduction in the amount of gas delivered to the EU via its Belarussian pipelines, plus surging global demand for LNG shipments, especially from Asia.
The UK’s own gas fields in the North Sea and Irish Sea have served the nation well – but their output is falling, partly because too few new fields have been developed, says OGUK, noting that from self-sufficiency in 2004 the UK can now meet only half its own gas needs. This means the UK is increasingly reliant on imports. In 2020 the UK consumed 74bn m3 of gas – about 1,100 m3 per person. Half had to be imported from other countries, including Norway, Qatar Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt and Nigeria.
OGUK’s soon to be published Energy Transition Outlook will warn that such reliance will increase – unless the UK invests in the new resources known to lie under its continental shelf. Without such investment UK gas output will plummet another 75% by 2030, states OGUK.
Deirdre Michie, CEO, OGUK says: ‘The gas resources off our own shores can boost our energy security and protect jobs. The UK industry’s own greenhouse gas emissions, generated during production from these new fields, would also be a lot lower than those generated by LNG imports. The UK and our industry are on a journey to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. We fully support this goal but 23mn UK homes are still heated by gas, which also generates 40% of our electricity, so we will need gas to power us through this green transition. It would be far better to get as much of that gas as possible from sources we can control rather than rely on other countries.’