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Environmentalists warn of close ties between oil and gas sector and UK’s North Sea regulator | Fossil fuels

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Campaigners have warned that shut hyperlinks exposed between the oil and fuel trade and the United Kingdom’s North Sea regulator, which is answerable for licensing new fields, chance overly “snug” relationships that may have an effect on the verdict making procedure.

3 of the 13 participants of the board of administrators and senior control staff of the Oil and Fuel Authority dangle sizeable shareholdings in oil firms, amounting to about £225,000, and 8 of the 13 in the past labored within the oil and fuel trade, the news site the Ferret has discovered, in an investigation funded by means of the Uplift marketing campaign towards fossil fuels.

The findings throw into additional controversy ministers’ give a boost to for the most important spherical of recent oil and fuel trends and licensing in years, which is going down whilst the United Kingdom prepares to host the Cop26 UN local weather talks in Glasgow in November.

The Oil and Fuel Authority informed the Dad or mum its board used to be drawn from execs from a variety of backgrounds, together with oil and fuel, and identified that their wisdom and experience have been important in serving to to keep watch over a specialized sector.

Mel Evans, the top of oil and fuel transition at Greenpeace UK, mentioned: “The OGA is taking a look awfully snug with trade. How can a supposedly independent regulator ship its function, taking local weather science into consideration, with one of these large ex-oil trade presence and ongoing vested pursuits in keeping up the established order on oil and fuel extraction?”

Greenpeace is difficult the licence to the Cambo oilfield, close to Shetland, which Shell and Siccar Level Power plan to milk beneath a allow to begin with granted in 2004. This month, legal professionals for the federal government informed the court docket that local weather exchange issues have been “now not related” to selections to grant oil lets in.

Every other crew, Paid to Pollute, could also be taking the federal government to court docket, objecting to the billions of kilos of taxpayer subsidy paid to the North Sea trade. Mikaela Loach, a claimant and anti-Cambo campaigner, mentioned: “The ones main the regulator stand to benefit from this bad trail [of further oil exploration], within the face of transparent proof that it’ll push us past secure local weather limits. What we’d like are other people in price to take the local weather emergency critically, beginning with striking an finish to Shell’s plans for the Cambo box.”

Caroline Rance, a Friends of the Earth Scotland local weather campaigner, added: “This transparent war of hobby on the center of the OGA management is indicative in their whole seize by means of the very trade they’re intended to be regulating. It’s utterly unacceptable that the OGA is meting out oil and fuel licences to their former employers that can stay us locked into local weather air pollution for many years to come back.”

The OGA, arrange in 2015 by means of the federal government with the statutory purpose of “maximising the industrial restoration of oil and fuel assets”, is answerable for issuing licences to probe for oil and fuel within the North Sea. Remaining September, it awarded 113 licences to 65 firms in 260 spaces of the North Sea.

In February, the organisation’s technique used to be revised to take account of the United Kingdom’s legislated goal of attaining web 0 greenhouse fuel emissions by means of 2050. It’s unclear how the OGA’s paintings will lend a hand the federal government meet its web 0 goal.

The worldwide calories watchdog, the World Power Company (IEA), warned in Might, in a document commissioned by means of the federal government, that each one exploration and construction of recent fossil gasoline assets should stop from the tip of this 12 months if the sector used to be to stick inside of 1.5C of worldwide heating, the mentioned purpose of the federal government at Cop26.

Alok Sharma, the cupboard minister answerable for Cop26, informed the Dad or mum remaining month that new oil and fuel trends within the North Sea have been appropriate with the IEA’s recommendation, as they must move a “local weather checkpoint” to ensure that licences to be granted.

Consistent with publicly available accounts filed in July, the 3 OGA board participants with oil corporate shareholdings, estimated to general £225,000 in keeping with percentage values on 31 March this 12 months, are the chair of the OGA, Tim Eggar, and the non-executive administrators Frances Morris-Jones and Iain Lanaghan.

Eggar, a former Conservative calories minister, held stocks price £57,600 within the oil products and services corporate MyCelx, the place he used to be non-executive chairman for 10 years to this July. His spouse had £12,000-worth of stocks in BP and £25,000 in Shell, one of the vital firms looking for to milk the Cambo oilfield.

Morris-Jones, who is ready to step down from her place on the regulator on the finish of this month, had holdings of greater than £100,000 in ConocoPhillips, america oil corporate, and £55,000 in BP, consistent with the paperwork.

Lanaghan, a former leader monetary officer, held stocks price just about £5,000 in Shell and £3,000 in BP.

Andy Samuel, the executive govt of the OGA and previously a senior supervisor on the fuel corporate BG Team, positioned his oil and fuel stocks in a blind consider prior to taking at the submit in 2015. The consider has been wound down, consistent with the OGA, and Samuel not holds any oil and fuel shares.

4 different OGA senior executives have shut hyperlinks to the oil and fuel sector. Tom Wheeler, the director of legislation on the OGA, is a former in-house suggest at ExxonMobil. Sarah Deasley, a non-executive director, is a director of Frontier Economics, a consultancy with British Fuel and Phoenix Herbal Fuel as purchasers. Scott Robertson, the director of operations, and Stuart Payne, the director of provide chain, decommissioning and human assets, have been previously senior managers at Dana Petroleum, owned by means of the Korea Nationwide Oil Company.

Robertson used to be additionally a senior supervisor at BP, and Payne used to be previously vice-president of human assets at Shell.

A minimum of two former participants of the OGA best staff have taken on new roles in calories after leaving the regulator, developing the affect of a “revolving door” that might permit former regulators to lend a hand advise oil and fuel firms on attainable trends sooner or later.

Robert Armour, a board member who resigned remaining September, is now director of an calories consultancy and chair of an energy-from-waste corporate. Gunther Newcombe, the director of operations till April 2020, is a specialist advising the Malaysian oil corporate Hibiscus Petroleum.

A spokesperson for the OGA informed the Dad or mum: “The OGA board incorporates extremely skilled execs from a variety of backgrounds. After all, a variety of the ones other people have direct enjoy of running within the oil and fuel trade. Their wisdom and experience are important in enabling the OGA to keep watch over what’s a extremely specialized sector. They’re complemented by means of administrators who convey wisdom of different industries and different regulators.”

The OGA additionally highlighted a disclaimer in its 2020-21 annual accounts launched in July. Board member stocks weren’t “sufficiently important to impair their impartial judgement in board discussions”, it mentioned. “The board does now not imagine that any resolution throughout the OGA’s powers may materially have an effect on the worth in their shareholdings.”

The OGA added: “Administrators should claim any monetary pursuits which might, or could also be looked as if it would, affect their judgment in acting their tasks as administrators of the OGA. That is achieved on appointment and yearly.

“Administrators are additional requested to claim any conflicts of hobby firstly of every board assembly. If a director announces a war of hobby with any schedule merchandise, they are going to now not take part within the dialogue of that merchandise.”


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