Wireline Issue 48 - Summer 2020

Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, answers Wireline’s questions on industry challenges, COVID-19 resilience and a sector deal to support net zero. The view fromWestminster

W hat do you think are the biggest challenges for the oil and gas industry and what is your advice for how we tackle them? First and foremost, the global spread of coronavirus has already produced a number of challenges, chiefly the huge drop in the price of oil. The UK Government has worked closely with G20 countries to ensure global energy supplies remain secure, competitive and reliable, as well as look beyond the pandemic to drive forward a clean energy future. I’m acutely aware of the worry this is causing to the tens of thousands of workers who rely on the oil and gas industry for their livelihoods, especially in Scotland and right across the UK. I want to reassure that the Government will be there for everyone connected with this — every step of the way. We’ve introduced a far- reaching package of support to help businesses to deal with the pandemic, including £330 billion in loans and grants, offering to pay 80% of the wages of furloughed workers, and nearly £3.7 billion to the Scotland Government to deal with COVID-19. Secondly, as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, I know the industry will be keen to ensure it is complying safely with practical guidelines to make their workplaces safe. That’s why the UK Government engaged with businesses, unions and trade associations, including the OGUK to draft practical guidance, which I would urge everyone to follow. We are also making progress

on testing. I would though like to congratulate the sector on the good work that it has done in response to the operational challenges that it has faced in recent months. The collaborative effort through the Pandemic Steering Group has been exemplary. Thirdly, as the industry goes through one of its most challenging times in its history, it’s important to reflect on how it can use this as an opportunity to adapt. The skill, flexibility and capacity for innovation in this industry is second to none. A transition to a low-carbon future will help the sector enjoy a sustainable recovery; and the UK Government is ready to support with that. I’ve been very encouraged by the industry’s shift in direction towards cutting its emissions. All of the UK has an important part to play in our world-leading commitment to reaching net zero by 2050. It’s very welcome to see OGUK’s Pathway to a Net Zero Basin which sets out the operational changes that the sector can and must take. These steps will be vital, not just to the UK’s economic health, but to the global transition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Credit must also go to the industry for the resilience shown in such difficult times. Faced with the twin problems of the pandemic and low oil price, innovation and problem-solving has prevailed, which will set What has been your impression of the oil and gas sector since taking on your role last year?

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