Union demands reserved UK share as North Sea gas exports double

A new report from Union GMB has claimed North Sea gas exports more than doubled by the end of the year, and therefore calls for emergency legislation to close out a fair share to mitigate the cost of living crisis.

The call comes as ministers prepare to publish an energy supply strategy before the end of the month.

The UK exported 32.5 GWh of natural gas in the fourth quarter of 2021, up 159% on the previous year, as prices were higher and Norwegian exports lower.

In the report, which was sent to ministers, GMB describes how the UK sells North Sea gas overseas every year, while households and industries grapple with rapidly rising bills.

GMB’s proposed ‘fair share’ policy would see the UK follow the path of many gas-producing countries and close off some domestic supply for the domestic market.

The scheme would create a reserve of North Sea gas that only domestic buyers could bid on, responding to international price pressure on British households and industries.

The report indicates that setting aside just 15% of production could meet the needs of 90% of the gas needs of energy-intensive industries; or the combined gas needs of the chemical, construction, automotive and food, glass and ceramics, and metals (including steel) sectors.

Capping exports could reduce domestic prices, while respecting trade agreements with partner countries during the current international crisis.

GMB also called for a long-term national gas policy tying use and production to the highest environmental and labor standards – instead of a net zero transition that relies on gas from Qatar and Russia.

Andy Prendergast, GMB National Secretary, said: “At a time of rapidly rising international tensions, we must secure the supply of vital natural resources.

“Measures must be taken to secure our energy supply and bring stability and reassurance to households and businesses.

“As a gas-producing country, the UK is an international exception in not having national limits in place – it’s time to have a national conversation about an industry that can make an immediate contribution to solving this the cost of living crisis.”

He added: “In the long term, it would be morally repugnant to achieve net zero by shutting down our vital industries while importing gas from despotic regimes. ”

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