The UK's approach to energy companies has been poor, but a new strategy hints at future promise.
In my most recent article post, I urged the de-politicisation of energy as a means of supporting a sustainable transition to a more balanced and less carbon-intensive energy mix. Over the intervening period, politicians the world over have shown us that the prospects of such a disconnect are slim. As Russian oil and, to a lesser extent, gas supplies have become subject to restrictions by European governments and the US, those same administrations have rushed to encourage Middle Eastern nations to increase oil output and divert LNG cargoes to fill the gap.
With OPEC producers in the Gulf remaining unified and resisting these advances and gas giant Qatar unable to cover much of the shortfall given that its gas is sold on long-term contracts, these advances have fallen on deaf ears. This is not surprising given the success of the OPEC+ policy on production restraint in refilling state coffers after a sustained period of low oil prices, while Doha is unlikely to turn its back on years of rapidly growing gas sales to Asian customers.
Here in the UK, while only receiving a minor share of our energy mix from Russia, skyrocketing utilities prices could turn out to be a boon for our sector in the medium-term with a new British Energy Security strategy providing a ray of light after years in the cold. The policy outlined plans for new wind, solar, nuclear and hydrogen projects as well as newfound support for domestic oil and gas production.
Meanwhile, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for a new lease of life for the North Sea, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng penned a letter to the industry in late April, which was supportive though less enthusiastic than “drill baby, drill!”