Mind the Gap : Why we need oil and gas to bridge the energy transition and beyond

As COP26 progresses Our Regional Director, Jonathan White, put pen to paper to communicate some of his thoughts surrounding the part that Oil and Gas plays within the Energy Transition.

As world leaders, climate experts, industrialists, economists, and no doubt activists descend upon Glasgow for COP26 my thoughts turn to the role oil and gas plays in achieving an effective energy transition.

Oil and gas is an easy target for activists to rally against, indeed as I write this Fawley Refinery is under siege. We hear sound bites such as “no more production” “stop using fossil fuel now” “no fossil fuel finance” often staged as media stunts designed to create maximum social media and TV coverage. Unfortunately, today’s media is tuned to give such activities maximum coverage on our screens, TVs and radios without the balance and commentary required for logical debate and balanced argument.

I don’t think anyone I work with within my industry disagrees for the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our industries activities. We must all work harder to reduce emissions, strive to electrify assets with green power and design new projects more sustainably. But just stopping exploration and production of oil and gas is not the answer.

Simply put petroleum products are very useful materials for human society and have driven a global economy to the quality of life that many of us enjoy today. And whilst in the past the human race has been profligate in their use, we now need to do a better job in how we conserve this useful resource effectively. And use it wisely instead of burning it in our vehicles and using it to heat our homes.

As a society, we have a lot of changes to make as we transition to Net Zero and we need oil and gas to do that. Not only as an integral driver to the economy in the meantime as we change our production processes and transport mechanisms away from burning fossil fuel. But we also need to remember that the production of oil and gas brings a significant tax revenue to the Treasury that will fund a state recovering from the extreme expense that occurred during the COVID pandemic. As such an active oil and gas industry is also very important to an effective, functioning state that will fund net zero initiatives.

Society needs to change to support the goals of Net-Zero. From using more active forms of transport, flying less, changing our eating habits etc.. As well as more industrial-scale changes in using renewable electricity to power production processes, sequestering, and utilising carbon where the process conditions cannot easily be changed.

The oil and gas industry struggles with its image in the media but it is integral to getting us to Net Zero and beyond. I hope this piece stands up for an industry that has contributed enormously to our society, will continue to do so and is committed to achieving Net-Zero.