April 19, 2024
Tory donor's oil and gas company given North Sea license after £150,000 fine


Just Stop Oil campaigners protesting against the offshore licensing bill in Parliament Square in January. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

An oil and gas company owned by a major Tory donor, which has been fined for illegal flaring, has been granted a license by the government to drill for fossil fuels.

This week, the government authorized drilling for fossil fuels in 24 new license areas in the North Sea. One of these licenses was given to EnQuest’s subsidiary EnQuest Heather.

Campaigners have criticized ministers for rewarding “reckless and polluting behaviour”, pointing out that EnQuest is expected to release more than 262 tonnes of gas over the Magnus field between 30 November and 1 December in 2022 by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA). A fine of £150,000 was imposed for burning. 2021, despite knowing that the necessary consent was not there.

Campaigners also revealed that since 2013, EnQuest’s chief executive, Amjad Basesu, has donated £480,721.40 in cash and in-kind to the Conservative Party.

The recent round of North Sea licenses has been controversial. The government argues that producing more oil there would “boost energy security, reducing Britain’s reliance on imports from hostile foreign regimes such as Russia”, and is part of a “pragmatic” approach to transitioning to net zero. The North Sea Transition Authority argues that the licenses will “help to ensure job security and provide benefits to the local and wider economy”.

It added: “This round is an important part of the North Sea Transition Authority’s (NSTA) drive to support the oil and gas industry, which currently contributes around three-quarters of domestic energy needs and, according to official forecasts, According to, will continue to do so. So despite the demand being low.”

But the Climate Change Committee and other energy experts have warned that no new oil and gas licenses should be granted if climate disaster is to be avoided. The Labor Party has pledged that it will not grant any new oil and gas licenses if voted to power.

Flaring is a controversial process because it burns excess fossil fuel, therefore spreading pollution unnecessarily. This is a cheap way of disposing of associated gas coming from oil production, and is banned by countries including Norway but allowed in some circumstances by the UK.

Emma Dearnley, legal director of The Good Law Project, said: “The Government’s support of the North Sea Oil and Gas Exceptional Program aims to help corporations and a few wealthy people make huge profits rather than invest in cheaper and greener energy sources. “It will come at a heavy cost to us.” The environment and our economy. “Does the minister consider this a price worth paying to keep his party’s donors happy?”

Philip Evans, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “You would be forgiven for thinking that the Tory Party might have an agenda when issuing these new oil and gas licenses. And since more oil and gas will only exacerbate the climate crisis, destroy lives and livelihoods around the world, and also not lower bills or make the UK more energy secure, you would be forgiven for thinking that the government would probably She does not have our best interests at heart. But when those who are awarded licenses have a track record of reckless and polluting behavior such as flouting regulations while funding the Conservative government, it will certainly raise eyebrows.

There are other ways to deal with excess natural gas, for example capturing it so that it is not burned wastefully, needlessly polluting the atmosphere.

Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “EnQuest and other companies that have been granted new exploration licenses are betting that the world will fail on climate change. Demand for more fossil fuels will remain high to cope with the change.

“Successful global climate policy will mean that demand will fall and oil and gas prices will fall in the international market. Relatively high operating costs in the North Sea mean that oil and gas production is unprofitable when market prices are low.

“This is why these operators need British consumers to continue paying high prices for oil and gas, and they prefer to extract and flare natural gas rather than make additional investment in infrastructure. This is the economics of an industry that is flush with customer money and finds it difficult to abandon inefficient, wasteful and polluting practices.

EnQuest and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero have been contacted for comment.

Source: uk.finance.yahoo.com

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