The U.K. offshore oil and gas industry pledged to cut emissions from its operations by half in the next decade, and eliminate them completely by 2050.
The commitment announced by industry body OGUK Tuesday reflects mounting pressure on energy producers to bolster the fight against global warming. Yet it relates only to direct emissions such as those from offshore oil platforms, despite calls from activists and investors to tackle customer emissions too.
“We are setting out our decarbonization pathway for our own production,” Louise O’Hara Murray, OGUK emissions-improvement manager, said on a conference call. “We do recognize that in the use of the product there are many more emissions.”
The pledge made by companies will see the removal of more than 9 million tons of greenhouse-gas output — equivalent to 4% of all U.K. emissions — over the next decade, O’Hara Murray said. That would be equivalent to taking about 2 million cars off the road for a year, she said separately in a statement.
Planned changes offshore include gradual reductions in burning unwanted natural gas and increased investment to power facilities with electricity rather than gas, according to OGUK. The industry is also discussing a “sector deal” with the government to help producers become more sustainable while protecting energy supplies and jobs, OGUK Chief Executive Officer Deirdre Michie said in the statement.
Britain set targets for net-zero emissions by 2050 about a year ago. In addition, oil companies around Europe are chasing ever-more ambitious goals including reducing emissions from oil-products used by customers.
Majors BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA are all setting out agendas for what’s becoming an existential challenge for the industry. Moves toward greater sustainability are bringing financial pain for some, and prompting fundamental questions about the value of such companies in the future.