Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

UK’s North Sea Fossil Fuel Drilling Plans


The UK Prime Minister has approved further fossil fuel drilling in the North Sea to bolster energy self-sufficiency, prompting concerns about climate commitments. The North Sea Transition Authority (NTSA) is supervising the 33rd licensing round for offshore oil and gas, raising discussions on the nation’s environmental goals.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

Evolution of North Sea Drilling

Evolution of North Sea Drilling

North Sea
  • The North Sea is situated in northwest Europe, bordered by multiple countries including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom.
  • It connects to the Atlantic through the English Channel and the Strait of Dover.
Historical Milestones
  • The 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf established nations’ rights over continental shelves, paving the way for North Sea exploration.
  • The UK’s Continental Shelf Act of 1964 solidified its jurisdiction over offshore oil and gas resources.
  • British Petroleum (BP) obtained the first UK North Sea exploration license in 1964, leading to the discovery of natural gas in 1965.
  • The BP-operated Sea Gem rig collapse in 1965 posed a setback.
  • Commercial oil was found in the Forties Field in 1970, triggering increased exploration.
Current UK Perspective
  • Despite aiming for Net-Zero Emissions by 2050, the UK anticipates a quarter of its energy requirement to still rely on oil and gas.
  • The UK emphasizes using domestic resources to meet energy needs rather than depending on foreign supplies.
  • Concerns arise regarding the UK’s commitment to climate targets, with doubts on its preparedness for climate change per the Climate Change Committee’s report.

Environmental Concerns of Offshore Drilling

Oil Spills:

  • Oil spills from drilling pose severe threats to marine ecosystems and wildlife.
  • Birds, marine mammals, and fish can be coated with oil, causing suffocation and impaired functioning.

Habitat Disruption:

  • The presence of drilling structures and pipelines disrupts marine habitats.
  • Noise and vibrations from drilling operations can disturb marine life, affecting communication, navigation, and breeding.

Habitat Damage:

  • Construction of drilling infrastructure harms underwater habitats like coral reefs and seagrass beds.
  • These habitats are crucial for breeding and feeding marine species.

Climate Impact:

  • Burning fossil fuels extracted from offshore drilling contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This worsens global climate change, leading to sea-level rise and ocean warming.

Resource Depletion:

  • Intensive drilling depletes oil and gas reserves, leading to pressure to explore ecologically sensitive regions.

Ocean Acidification:

  • CO2 released from fossil fuel burning is absorbed by oceans, causing ocean acidification.
  • This harms marine life, especially organisms with calcium carbonate shells, like coral reefs and shellfish.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2024