An investigation has been launched into an oil and gas company for flaring and venting in the North Sea without consent.
The probe by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) could result in action being taken, including a fine for the company or the relevant licence being taken away.
Monitoring flaring and venting and reducing emissions are vital parts of the NSTA’s work to help the UK Government meet the net-zero target. These processes also waste gas which could otherwise be used to boost the UK’s energy security.
Compliance with consents is both an indicator of good management of fields by licensees and a vital pillar of a company’s social licence to operate.
Under the NSTA’s Strategy, licensees have an obligation to assist the Secretary of State to meet the net-zero target, while optimising oil and gas production to bolster security of supply. Unauthorised flaring and venting go against this obligation.
Flaring and venting made up 26% of emissions from oil and gas production activities in the UK North Sea between 2018-20 – and reducing them will help to meet targets agreed in the North Sea Transition Deal and lower gas waste.
Following the revision of its Strategy, the NSTA introduced a net-zero stewardship expectation in March 2021, requiring operators to show their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases throughout the project lifecycle.
A tougher approach to flaring and venting was subsequently set out in updated guidance, which provided details of the NSTA’s intent to use its consenting regime to drive reductions and, where possible, eliminate both processes.
Jane de Lozey, NSTA Interim Director of Regulation, says, “With our support, North Sea operators cut flaring by 20% and venting by 22% last year. The NSTA is committed to holding industry to account on emissions to ensure progress continues and is prepared to take action where we suspect a company’s actions risk compromising efforts to meet and surpass agreed targets.”