The latest annual economic report published today by the trade body representing the UK's oil and gas industry said the sector is ready to invest £21 billion over the next five years to explore and produce hydrocarbons in the UK.
This would "protect the UK's highly skilled offshore workforces whose knowledge of marine and energy engineering will be essential in the transition to renewable and low-carbon technologies", the organisation said.
The report found that investment was key to maintaining domestic oil and gas production, and stated that a failure to invest in new fields – to replace those in decline now – would mean the UK could meet only a third of its future needs, leaving it more reliant on imports.
The organisation also noted that the UK had to import 56 per cent of the gas needed to keep the nation’s homes warm and its power stations running between January and March this year – amongst the highest seen for the same winter quarter.
Additionally, the country is now among Europe’s largest consumers of gas, and about 23 million or 85 per cent of homes rely on it for central heating and hot water, as well as it providing heat and power for business, and generating 35 per cent of the UK’s electricity.
The report also found that, overall, the UK still gets nearly three quarters of its total energy from gas and oil, with production from the UK Continental Shelf meeting around 70 per cent of this demand.
Between now and 2050, when the UK is meant to reduce emissions to net zero, half of all the country's energy will need to come from oil and gas, OGUK said.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie commented: "We all know that change is needed – so the question is how fast we make that change. This report shows the reality that cutting off the domestic production of oil and gas faster than we can reduce demand risks leaving us increasingly dependent on other countries that often generate higher emissions.
"Cutting back our greenhouse gas emissions will not be easy, but we will do it faster if we support the companies and people who have the skills to get us there. From energy workers to energy consumers, we all need a managed and fair transition which benefits everyone.
"While the UK continues to use oil and gas, we should make the most of the resources we produce here. The North Sea Transition Deal reduces the need for imported energy, makes us more responsible for our own emissions and supports UK companies and people who are already investing in cleaner energy,” added Ms Michie.
Amid Scotland preparing to host global UN summit COP26, she recently stated that drilling a new Cambo oil and gas field off Shetland would actually help the UK cut its carbon emissions. OGUK is set to publish its energy transition outlook report this month.