The Oil & Gas Technology Centre is bidding to offset all emissions created as a result of operations in the UK Continental Shelf

equinor featured - shutterstock_97379018

The UK Continental Shelf produced more than 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide as recently as 2017(Credit: Shutterstock 97379018)

In a bid to offset the carbon emitted from operations in the UK Continental Shelf, which comprises parts of the North Sea, the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) has today announced plans to create a Net Zero Solution Centre.

Part of the Aberdeen-based organisation’s overarching plan to create the world’s first net zero hydrocarbon basin, the project has received backing from the UK government and various blue ribbon energy firms including BP, Shell, Equinor and Total.

It will serve to create an integrated offshore energy system designed to expedite the development of emissions reduction technology such as carbon capture and storage by bringing to bear the expertise of both academia and the private sector.

Colette Cohen, CEO of the OGTC, said: “The UK offshore oil and gas industry is a dynamic system of infrastructure, supply chains, expert workforce, research activity and technology development and deployment.

“This diverse industrial ecosystem must play a fundamental role in the creation of a net zero carbon economy.

“With the backing of industry and government, and strong track of delivery, the OGTC is committed to moving the dial on carbon reduction and enabling the UK Continental Shelf to become the first net zero hydrocarbon basin in the world.

“Our focus will be on developing technologies to reduce operational carbon emissions, working with other parts of the energy sector to create integrated solutions and repurposing infrastructure to accelerate carbon capture usage and storage, hydrogen production and gas-to-wire capacity.

“We’re delighted to be working with a strong group of companies and look forward to adding new strategic partners to the Net Zero Solution Centre over the coming months.”

net zero north sea
Colette Cohen will launch the Net Zero Solution Centre today (3 September) (Credit OGTC)

Creating a net zero North Sea

On 12 June, then-Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK government had bound by law its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The move made Britain the first G7 country to make a move towards curbing climate change of this magnitude, building on its previous target of cutting emissions by 80% over the next three decades.

Achieving net zero means all emissions from buildings, transport, agriculture and business will have to be entirely avoided or offset by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by other means.

“As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change,” said Mrs May in a statement at the time.

“We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions – now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children.

“This country led the world in innovation during the industrial revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.

“Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.”

uk zero emissions law
Former Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK government had bound by law its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 in June this year (Credit: Flickr)

The OGTC’s Net Zero Solution Centre has been hailed by the industry as critical to ensuring Britain achieves its legally-binding emissions target, with the UK Continental Shelf producing more than 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide as recently as 2017.

The centre will be officially launched today (3 September), with initial projects to be announced before the end of the year and a high-level plan expected in 2020.

Andy Samuel, chief executive of the UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), said: “The OGA warmly welcomes this important step forward.

“We believe the oil and gas industry, with its long history of engineering excellence, infrastructure, subsurface expertise and world-class supply chain, should play a leading role in the drive to net zero.

We’re excited by the opportunities to use technology to enable carbon capture and storage, offshore energy integration and hydrogen production, while we maximise economic recovery from the UKCS to meet continuing energy demands and reduce reliance on hydrocarbon imports.”

Various senior members of companies backing the Net Zero Solution Centre, including Shell’s UK upstream vice president Steve Phimister and BP North Sea’s regional president Ariel Flores, also expressed optimism with regards to the project’s prospects.