14th April 2015
Ashley Fox MEP has launched a scathing attack on the UK Labour Party for opposing common-sense plans to protect North Sea Oil and Gas from European meddling.
In a vote today in the European Parliament's Industry and Energy Committee, three Labour MEPs either voted against or failed to vote at all, including Clare Moody, Labour MEP for the South West of England.
The relevant amendment was lost by only three votes. If the 3 Labour MEPs had voted in favour of plans to protect the industry, then this measure would have passed.
The directive as approved would require the installation of expensive new equipment on gas and diesel engines situated on oil rigs. The European Commission has been pushing for a directive to cover onshore engines as an environmental measure, but then included offshore engines as an afterthought.
Offshore platforms were entirely absent from the Commission's own impact assessment. There is no need for such a directive to extend offshore since the UK Government already regulates the air quality of North Sea Oil and gas rigs, which are only granted permits if they comply with maximum emission limits.
The plans would create huge costs, and accelerate early decommissioning of the rigs. This would have an impact on energy security and thousands of UK jobs, while providing only minimal air quality benefits.
Ironically the vote comes the day after the Labour Party pledged: "To safeguard the future of the offshore oil and gas industry, we will provide a long-term strategy for the industry, including more certainty on tax rates and making the most of the potential for carbon storage."
Mr Fox commented: "What the Labour party have done today is risk jobs in the British Oil and Gas industry. The European Commission's ill-conceived directive is bad enough but to be backed by British MEPs is nothing short of economic vandalism.
"If they prove to be successful, then the Labour Party will have delivered EU plans to force platforms to fit large, heavy and expensive new equipment on their engines. Anyone who has been on an oil rig will tell you that more space and extra weight are the two things you simply don't have. The Directive is also wholly unnecessary given that the British Government already has world-leading emissions rules with which the rigs have to comply.
"Is it any wonder that the Chief Executive of BP Bob Dudley has warned that a Labour Government threatens economic recovery? The tax breaks and support which George Osborne delivered in the last budget are exactly what the Oil and Gas industry need to safeguard jobs and investment.
"While Conservatives offer jobs and growth as part of a long term economic plan, what the Labour Party have done today is send out a clear message that they are anti-business and happy to accept everything and anything Brussels throws at them. With one hand they pledge to help the industry, with the other they vote to shackle it. I will continue to fight to exempt UK rigs from these EU rules and safeguard British jobs."
Around 8% -10% of the European Union's oil and gas consumption is produced on the UK Continental Shelf, and accelerated decommissioning would impact the future recovery of proven reserves by as much as 45%-60% during the period up to 2030.
This would compound the EU's significant dependence on energy imports (53% in 2013) and an energy import bill of over €1bn per day.
In the UK the oil and gas industry supports employment for around 450,000 people, almost half in Scotland. Accelerated decommissioning would affect employment, leading to thousands of job losses across the UK by 2030. (SOURCE - Department of Energy, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)