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Shell revives huge North Sea gas field to boost Britain's energy security - by Rachel Millard

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Alongside the rolling news from war torn Ukraine comes the economic shock waves now rippling across Western Europe as the EU comes to terms with its over-dependence on Russian-owned oil and gas supplies and what that means for us here in Britain.

We enclose a trilogy of articles on the subject, beginning with a press release from Shell last Thursday announcing that they had submitted plans

“to develop a huge gas field in the North Sea, six months after they were rejected by environmental regulators, in an attempt to help Britain become less dependent on foreign suppliers.

The FTSE 100 company said it wanted the Jackdaw field, about 250km east of Aberdeen, to start operating by 2025. It argued it would make "a significant contribution to UK energy security" and could be developed with relatively low carbon emissions.”

How we make good the shortfall in the meantime is still a matter of debate within Cabinet according to Rachel Millard for the Telegraph. Not for the first time, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor appear to be at loggerheads:

“Both the UK and the US are banning imports of Russian oil and Mr Johnson is believed to want the EU to follow suit.

However, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has warned that an EU-wide ban on Russian oil and gas would tip economies including the UK's into recession and knock about 3pc off British GDP "straightaway", according to the Financial Times.”

The full article in pdf can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article by Rachel Millard for the Telegraph - Shell revives huge North Sea gas field to bo
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Despite its superficial appeal, abolishing net zero is not the answer to our energy crisis, according to Jeremy Warner in an accompanying piece for the Telegraph.

Dismissing Nigel Farage’s support for a referendum on the matter, he identifies a fundamental contradiction at the heart of it:

“The idea that you need a lot more expensively priced oil and gas to deal with a cost-of-living crisis substantially caused by expensively priced oil and gas makes no sense at all.

It wasn’t Mr Farage’s slogan, admittedly, but if the “take back control” intention of Brexit is to be applied to energy policy, we plainly need to rid ourselves of our addiction to hydrocarbons from dodgy, and often hostile, regimes in faraway places.

Whatever the fantasies of the fracking lobby, the brutal truth is that we can never be self-sufficient in these commodities, and even if we were, we wouldn’t escape the tyranny of the oil price, which every 10 years or so reaches the sort of punishing levels we see today. It’s not green energy that is responsible for today’s soaraway inflation, but our reliance on highly priced oil and gas.”

Blind adherence to an either/or strategy is not the answer. Instead, we should be concentrating on a multi-pronged approach of renewables, nuclear and hydro-carbons to achieve our goal:

The promise of renewables, when combined with baseload nuclear, is that they finally rid us of this dependency, bringing about a far more stable and self-contained energy system, wholly disassociated from the often geopolitically driven vicissitudes of the oil price. The aim is as much energy security as it is saving the planet.”

The full article in pdf can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article for the Telegraph by Jeremy Warner - Nigel Farage is only half right on net zero -
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Ross Clark is even less convinced about net zero. Renewables he says are all very well, but

“we do need our gas and oil. Notionally, we already have enough wind turbines and solar panels to provide the average 40 GW of power that Britain consumes.

But there is a good reason why wind and solar between them were only generating 35 percent of our electricity at midday on Friday. Large parts of Britain were becalmed by an anticyclone. But at least it was sunny. There are times, typically on calm, still winter nights, when the contribution of renewable energy falls well below 10 percent.

We can only manage renewables because we have gas power plants we can switch on and turn up to make up for gaps in solar and wind energy.”

If anything the politics behind the current situation is even worse. As things stand, Britain’s aim to achieve net-zero by 2050 is not just an ambition, but a legally binding commitment:

"This was written into an amendment to the Climate Change Act, which was nodded through the Commons without even a vote in the dying days of Theresa May’s premiership.

What this legal commitment does is to invite environmental activists to sue the Government for any policy which might be argued to be inconsistent with the net zero target. And that is exactly what they are doing. The Government has already lost one such action, in 2018 when the Court of Appeal ruled that a third runway would be inconsistent with the Government’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Unsurprisingly, having tasted one victory, activists have come back for more. In January, another group, ClientEarth, filed a lawsuit claiming that the government is not yet doing enough to meet its net zero target."

Other bodies besides the government are also in the firing line:

"Last week, ClientEarth also sued the directors of Shell, claiming that they are in breach of Company Law for not preparing sufficiently for net zero. It is a copycat action of a successful case in the Dutch courts last year, when Shell was still a partly-Dutch company."

How the government escapes its own legislative strait-jacket is anyone’s guess. As things stand

“The moment that the Government starts trying to issue gas and oil extraction licences, it will find itself in court. The closer we approach 2050, the more intense the legal battles will become.


“The Government will find it increasingly hard to build any kind of infrastructure or pursue any kind of policy promoting economic growth – unless some affordable and as-yet undiscovered technology emerges to allow us to fly, drive, manufacture things and keep the lights on without emitting carbon dioxide. Without that, it is hard to see how the activists won’t enjoy frequent victories.”

The full article in pdf can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article for the Telegraph by Ross Clark - The Government's absurd commitment to Net Zero i
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