The new UK coalition government promised a raft of green initiatives in yesterday’s Queen’s speech, focusing on helping households become greener and also offering hope to the North Sea’s depleting fields.
The government promised a new energy bill in the next parliament – under which households would be encouraged to invest in measures such as solar panels. The creation of a green investment back would make loans available to households looking to implement carbon-reducing schemes, such as insulation.
Wider energy concerns
The new energy bill may also contain measures to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations; reform energy markets for fairer competition; and develop a smart grid to revolutionise supply and demand for electricity.
In addition, a new bill may help ensure North Sea infrastructure is available to all companies, so as to ease the exploitation of smaller and more difficult oil and gas fields.
Deloitte has welcomed this attention to the depleting North Sea fields, commenting “We note from the Queen’s Speech that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) may include measures in the forthcoming Energy Bill to ensure North Sea infrastructure would be available to all companies to ease the exploitation of smaller and more difficult oil and gas fields. We welcome this and would positively encourage the development of legislation in this area.
“Whilst North Sea infrastructure is not seen by many as of immediate importance to the UK economy, the widest possible access to that infrastructure is critical if the UK is to maximise the value and recovery of its indigenous oil and gas reserves and ensure that smaller and more difficult accumulations of hydrocarbons are not left stranded offshore.
“In order to prolong the life of the North Sea and to maximise the recovery of reserves, the current voluntary infrastructure code of practice (ICOP) needs to be reviewed. Consideration could potentially be given to compulsory arbitration, with a fixed timetable to encourage wider and faster access to both ageing and new infrastructure. In addition thought needs to be given to the extent to which infrastructure owners are required to operate and maintain that infrastructure well beyond the lives of the fields to which it originally related. Incentives to encourage the sale and purchase of infrastructure provided through the North Sea oil and gas tax regime could facilitate this process.”
New energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, said: "The Queen's speech makes clear that energy security and taking real action to tackle climate change aren't add-on extras for this new government, but are vital to our national interest.”