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North Sea gas is almost four times cleaner than imports

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Oilfield Technology,

North Sea gas is significantly cleaner and supports the drive to net zero greenhouse gas emissions far more than imports, according to analysis published by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).

The research shows that domestically produced gas is on average almost four times cleaner than importing gas in LNG form. This is because of both the way the gas is transferred and, in some cases, the methods of extraction. Norway has the lowest carbon intensity of all LNG imports at 33 kgCO2/boe, and Peru the highest at 90, with the average coming to 79, while UK gas has a carbon intensity of only 21 kgCO2/boe.

Carbon intensity is the amount of CO2 emissions created per boe produced.

The primary causes for the stark difference in emissions are the process of liquefaction – turning the gas into liquid for transport - then transportation via shipping, and finally regasification, turning the liquid back into gas so it can be used.

The report shows that around 63% of UK gas supply is imported into the country, 187mmboe via and 156mmboe from LNG. The UK produced 38% of its gas supply (in 2022), a total of 206mmboe. Yet that 38% was responsible for only 24% of total emissions associated with gas supply, whereas LNG from the US was responsible for 35% of the emissions, despite being only 14% of the supply.

Oil and gas currently contribute around three quarters of domestic energy needs and official forecasts show that, even as demand is reduced, they will continue to play an important role while transitioning to net zero.

Helping to deliver UK energy security and the drive to reach net zero go hand-in-hand. The analysis shows that domestically-produced gas creates significantly fewer emissions than average imports, and that continuing to produce gas in the UK as cleanly as possible will assist in the drive to cut emissions.

The NSTA is currently assessing the 115 bids received for licences in the 33rd Oil and Gas Licensing Round, with a view to awarding licences later in the year. These new licences will help to ensure energy security and support the drive to cut emissions by reducing reliance on dirtier more carbon intensive gas imports.

However, it is vital that emissions are tackled at home as well, so the NSTA has already offered 21 carbon storage licences from the UK’s first-ever Carbon Storage Licensing Round, sites which could store up to 10% of total annual UK emissions.

The authority has worked with industry to help it cut emissions from flaring and venting by 50% in the past five years, and published guidance that makes it clear that routine venting and flaring will be banned for all by 2030.

In addition, the NSTA is working with government and industry to support platform electrification, setting out to industry our expectation that investments need to happen now.

The NSTA’s commitment to the energy transition is demonstrated by the fact that interventions have prevented the lifetime emission of 3.9 million t of CO2e - equivalent to taking 1.9 million cars off the road for a year.

Hedvig Ljungerud, NSTA Director of Strategy, said: “This analysis highlights the benefits of continuing to produce our own gas, as cleanly as possible, for as long as we consume it, to support domestic energy security and the drive to net zero. “The NSTA will continue to work with industry to drive reductions in emissions while also supporting the energy transition.”

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