From reader stewartb and further comment from Alasdair Macdonald:
It is commonplace for journalists and even industry spokespersons to refer to the ‘North Sea’ when what they really mean are the areas of the UK continental shelf which include the actual geographic North Sea plus the Scottish Atlantic Margin.
The prevailing message to the electorate by Unionists is that the ‘North Sea’ is just a very mature oil & gas province and its reserves will rapidly run out. Unfortunately, I suspect that the general public fails to discern how the term ‘North Sea’ is being used: I suspect the general public has very little knowledge of more recent industry activity exploring and producing from assets on the Scottish Atlantic Margin.
And this sense of the ‘North Sea’ as an ‘old’ story and a rapidly declining asset suits the Unionist cause very well.
And candidly it is rarely challenged nowadays by political leaders on the pro-independence side of the argument. In a speech last month, the recently appointed chair of the UK Oil & Gas Authority, Tim Eggar spoke at length about the UK offshore oil & gas sector’s future in the period of transition to a net zero carbon economy.
His remarks are worth storing away for use in debate with Unionists who dismiss the significance of Scotland’s remaining oil & gas assets.Here are some extracts from the speech:“Since 2015, the “tripartite” partnership between government, industry and the OGA has firmly focused on our prime objective – maximising economic recovery.
Out of the oil price crisis, that partnership has helped add nearly 4 billion barrels to forecasts and achieve year-on-year production efficiency increases.
We’ve seen operating costs stabilise and hugely encouraging decommissioning cost efficiency. Congratulations.
You have MADE THIS BASIN COMPETITIVE again. A huge achievement.” (my emphasis)So the UK (largely Scottish) offshore is ‘competitive’.
That’s good to have confirmed by this UK government agency!
Eggar goes on:
“The most well regarded and objective analysis of the path to 2050 – the Committee on Climate Change’s ‘Net Zero’ report – points to oil and gas REMAINING AN IMPORTANT AND CRITICAL PART of our energy mix for the foreseeable future, as we transition to net zero. Indeed, WITHOUT GAS WE CANNOT TRANSITION to net zero.”
So oil & gas will remain a key contributor to the UK’s energy mix ‘for the foreseeable future’. It’s good to have confirmed by this UK government agency!
And then he states:“It is QUITE FEASIBLE FOR THE UKCS TO BE CARBON NEGATIVE by 2050.” and “Maximising economic recovery of oil and gas DOES NOT NEED TO BE IN CONFLICT WITH the transition to net zero. They can and should be fully integrated.”
And finally here: “Policy on CCUS (Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage) is for government. We need policy clarity as soon as possible. …. Success could help make the basin carbon negative.” and “We will increase our work with key stakeholders on ENERGY INTEGRATION OPPORTUNITIES with renewables, electrification, CCUS and hydrogen.”
So to recap: the chair of the OGA tells us in terms that Scotland has a competitive offshore oil & gas province; that there will be a need for the energy the Scottish offshore industry supplies for the foreseeable future and the supply of gas in particular is essential to achieving the transition to net zero; these energy assets can be exploited in ways compatible with the transition to net zero carbon emissions; and this will require significant but feasible technology developments in order to transition successfully and achieve valuable energy integration outcomes.
Not a bad draft text for the economic investment prospectus for a newly independent country of c. 5.5 million people – and that’s before we get to include all Scotland’s other indigenous assets!With such assets and opportunities longterm from Scotland’s continental shelf now confirmed here, it is remarkable how opponents of independence seem to have managed to convince so many in Scotland that offshore oil & gas is economically irrelevant and/or harmful (toxic) to the economic case for independence whilst this agency of the Westminster government lauds its continuing longterm relevance and importance even to an economy the size of the present UK!
Setting aside the eco argument, the ‘Atlantic Margin’ is, of course, on the route taken by the English/British phalluses aka, Trident submarines, when travelling to monitor Russian submarines entering the Atlantic to the north of Norway. So, since oil and gas extraction might hinder this ‘willie waving’, it has not been developed. In addition, making this knowledge too public would give the Jocks ideas that it is THEIR oil and gas and might make some more of them think they could be independent.
The McCrone report in the 1970s was suppressed by the then Labour (nationalist) government and by all subsequent UK nationalist governments because it demonstrated that an independent Scotland could be ‘viable’ and very prosperous. And, being good ‘socialists’ and not ‘nationalists’, Labour believed in ‘pooling and sharing’ for the benefit of all workers in the UK, but, specifically those toiling in the top echelons of global finance, because they know how to manage these things.
As Johan Lamont said, “Scots are not genetically programmed to run our own affairs.” This view persists in people like Ms Lisa Nandy MP and Ms Jess Phillips, leadership candidates for the English/British Labour Party.