UK North Sea regulator the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has announced its rebranding, and will from today be known instead as the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA). The change is intended to reflect the authority’s shifted focus to a net-zero strategy, with new activities including emissions monitoring and carbon storage licensing, as well as the UK’s wider strategy to improve its energy independence.
The decision comes as the UK faces a spike in energy prices that will see household bills rising by as much as £600-£1,000 a year, with the ongoing Ukraine crisis sending oil prices to a seven year high and gas prices up by 28% as of last month.
While the UK currently imports the majority of its gas from Norway, and is not overly reliant on Russia for its energy needs, the conflict’s impact on the overall market has still raised concerns over supplies and incentivised industry members to seek ways of increasing self-sufficiency when it comes to energy.
The need to bolster energy security also comes as warnings over climate change are heightening, with the IPCC’s latest report into climbing temperatures one of the most damning studies yet.
In this context, the newly dubbed NSTA is stressing the importance of continued investment into the North Sea, with sustainability at the heart of future development plans, to battle what it terms the “energy trilemma” of security, affordability, and sustainability.
“We must minimise [our] reliance on imports, which often have a larger carbon footprint,” says Dr Andy Samuel, chief executive of the NSTA in a statement. “We are stewarding a good number of oil and gas developments in line with our net-zero test, ensuring cleaner production, while bolstering energy security and giving the UK options.”
The regulator has also confirmed it will be holding a new North Sea licensing round this year to further support the UK Government’s bid to boost domestic supply, and has said it will be supporting investors to “press ahead” with clean technologies such as carbon capture and storage, platform electrification, and hydrogen.
The North Sea Transition Deal, signed alongside the government last year, aims to maximise economic recovery of the North Sea, hoped to create as many as 40,000 jobs in new energies by 2030 and unlock as much as £16bn of investment.