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British oil and gas industry calls for renewed focus

Industry body Oil & Gas U.K. calls for focus on dwindling investments in the British energy sector.

By Daniel J. Graeber
British oil and gas industry calls for renewed focus
Oil and gas group calls on British Prime Minister Theresa May to not turn her back on investments opportunities in energy. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

LONDON, July 14 (UPI) -- The oil and gas reserves remaining in British waters need to attract the right investments under the administration of Theresa May, an industry body said.

May ascended to the premiership Wednesday after accepting the invitation from the British monarchy to form a new government. The former home secretary, May is tapped with leading the country out of the European Union according to the terms spelled out in a June referendum.

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Following the June vote, BP, which cut about 600 jobs from its payroll, said there may be some uncertainty moving forward for the regional oil and sector.

A February report from Oil & Gas U.K. warned exploration activity offshore was at an all-time low and there were no signs of improvement. Less than $1.4 billion in spending on new projects is expected in 2016, compared with an average of around $7 billion in the past five years.

Deirdre Michie, the chief executive of Oil & Gas U.K., said in a statement hers was a political-neutral entity working to ensure investments continue to move toward the British energy sector.

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"While Brexit raises challenges and opportunities for governments, it is so important that we do not lose focus on the very real difficulties being felt by the sector at this time," she said in an emailed statement. "The low levels of exploration and development activity on the U.K. Continental Shelf are of real concern and we need to ensure the basin continues to attract investment going forward."

In her opening address as prime minister, May stuck largely to social themes, noting the legacy of former Prime Minister David Cameron had more to do with addressing inequalities than the economy. A profile of May from Greenpeace notes she's been relatively silent on energy issues and the environment, though her party has received donations from industries that build oil and natural gas rigs.

Amber Rudd remains on as British secretary of energy and climate change in May's Cabinet. Rudd said after the referendum the British economy enjoyed "significant advantages" as a member of the European Union, warning of a long period of uncertainty because of the EU divorce.

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