All new UK oil and gas projects to be blocked under Labour, reports say

Opposition's plan aims to transform Britain into clean-energy superpower

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 08, 2019 The Total Culzean platform is pictured on the North Sea, about 45 miles (70 kilometres) east of the Aberdeen, Europe's self-proclaimed oil capital on Scotland's northeast coast, on April 8, 2019. A barrel of Brent crude oil rose to $60 on February 8, 2021 for the first time in nearly a year, a sign that the oil market is looking toward recovery.  - 
 / AFP / ANDY BUCHANAN
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All new oil and gas developments in the North Sea would be blocked by Keir Starmer under a Labour government, according to reports.

The plan, which would also limit government borrowing to green enterprise investments, aims to transform Britain into a “clean-energy superpower”.

The Labour leader is expected to set out the net-zero energy policy next month, when he travels to Scotland to launch his vision for the nation.

The party says the plans will create up to half a million jobs in the renewables industry, 50,000 of which would be in Scotland.

A Labour source told The Sunday Times: "We are against the granting of new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea.

"They will do nothing to cut bills, as the Tories have acknowledged.

"They undermine our energy security and would drive a coach and horse through our climate targets.

"But Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades and manage them sustainably as we transform the UK into a clean-energy superpower."

The news comes weeks after the government set out plans to boost domestic sources of affordable, clean and secure energy, including a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas.

The UK's energy regulator recently identified 33 new North Sea projects with a potential output of 1.3 million barrels of oil and gas.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), which is responsible for licensing and regulating the exploration and development of energy, said the initiatives would bolster the nation's energy security.

It recently held a recent licensing round for oil and gas exploration projects, attracting more than 100 bids.

Two oilfields, Cambo and Jackdaw, have been given licences.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, told Sky News on Sunday his party would over the coming weeks outline "how we want to invest in green jobs of the future".

He said it was not about "shutting down what's going on at the moment", but rather ensuring current developments are managed sustainably.

He added: "We know we've got to move to more renewable sources of energy, it's important for our climate change commitments but it's also the way in which we can bring energy bills down for consumers."

In its draft energy strategy published in January, the Scottish Government said there "should be a presumption against new exploration for oil and gas", as it proposed making the "fastest possible just transition".

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said on Twitter on Sunday: "First it was the SNP, now Labour want to abandon the north east and the thousands of jobs that support North Sea oil and gas.

"Only the Scottish Conservatives will stand up for the area and those employed in our oil and gas sector."

About 45 per cent of the UK’s gas needs are met by domestic energy generation and 85 per cent of British households still use gas boilers to heat their homes.

Britain's Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng this month wrote to the North Sea oil and gas industry.

His letter said: "In return for the UK government’s continuing support for the sector, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and I want to see a very clear plan from the oil and gas industry to reinvest profits in the North Sea and, importantly, in the clean energy technologies of the future."

Updated: May 28, 2023, 9:19 AM