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  • Are UK Oil Rigs More Polluting Than Others?

Are UK Oil Rigs More Polluting Than Others?

Oct 10 2020 Read 403 Times

A new report from Rystad Energy suggests the British oil and gas industry could be dirtier than originally thought, with data revealing rigs in the in the UK continental shelf (UKCS) release more CO2 than their Danish and Norwegian counterparts. The report places British rigs as the most pollution heavy in the North Sea, releasing more than 13 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere every year. This equates to enough gas to heat more than a million homes annually. In comparison, North Sea rigs operated by Norway release 10.4 million tonnes of CO2 a year while rigs operated by Denmark release just 1.4 million tonnes.

“In order to reach its ambitious climate goals, the country will need to take serious steps towards decarbonisation of its production by electrifying its infrastructure via renewable sources of energy, thus moving away from carbon-intensive gas turbines and diesel generators on offshore platforms,” reads the report.

Flaring identified as key contributor

Routine “flaring” of surplus gas was identified as a major contributor, with the Rystad Energy report revealing British oil rigs release around 3 million tonnes of CO2 via this process. This accounts for around 25% of all offshore-related CO2 emissions in the United Kingdom and represents around 1% of all annual CO2 emissions.

More than 10 million tonnes of CO2 was put down to rigs operating on fossil fuels, a policy that the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) continues to allow. Overall, for every barrel of North Sea oil produced by the UK around 21kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. In Norway, where many producers power rigs using renewable energy, the per-barrel figure was just 8kg. If these high figures continue analysts warn the UK’s carbon targets could be jeopardised. Rystad predicts oil production in the UKCS will rise by 25% by the end of the 2030s which would significantly increase CO2 emissions if current operations continue.

“Significant room for improvement” admit analysts

Rystad Energy analyst Olga Savenkova says there is “significant room for improvement” for reducing Britain’s carbon footprint and transitioning away from fossil fuel powered rigs. The OGA is in agreeance, confirming it plans to “take a robust stance on flaring” and encourage rigs to switch to wind-powered energy. “We believe there are clear opportunities for industry to go further to advance cleaner production,” says OGA Director of Strategy Hedvig Ljungerud.

Offshore oil production isn’t the only sector under fire, with the maritime industry also under pressure to reduce its environmental footprint. Find out more about the latest industry news in ‘Clean Burning Marine Fuels Making A Difference To Air Quality.’

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