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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of any contribution to greenhouse gas emissions that may result from (a) the 167 new North Sea oil and gas licences announced on 25 October 2012 and (b) the policy that he announced on that date that every last economic drop of oil and gas from the North Sea will be produced; if he will make an assessment of the potential effect of these developments on (i) the achievement of the UK's domestic carbon budgets, (ii) his objective of reducing the UK's dependency on fossil fuels and on volatile global energy prices and (c) the UK's international efforts to secure global action to avoid dangerous climate change; and if he will make a statement.
We are fully committed to meeting our carbon budgets, and to meeting our international commitments on action to avoid dangerous climate change. However, our energy needs today are predominantly supplied by oil and gas. Despite our ambitious programmes to shift supply to low-carbon sources and to improve energy efficiency, projections point to the need for a substantial proportion of our overall energy needs to be supplied by oil and gas for years to come.
The choice is therefore between obtaining these supplies from indigenous sources, with all the benefits that provides to UK employment and the economy, or paying to obtain supplies from abroad. Though some 40 billion barrels of oil equivalent have already been produced from the UK continental shelf, there may be 20 billion more which could yet be produced. Our work on oil and gas licensing, exploration and development therefore aims to secure over time the maximum economic recovery of these resources.