News story

Greater security for North Sea Oil and Gas as Energy Bill becomes law

The Government is powering ahead with our plans to help guarantee secure, affordable and clean energy for the nation, as the Energy Bill comes into law.

The Energy Act is designed to help drive forward the government’s energy goals and commitments. This includes new powers for the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to better support North Sea industry, giving local communities the say on new onshore windfarm planning decisions and bringing forward the closure of costly subsidies for new onshore wind developments across Great Britain.

The OGA is being established on the recommendations of the Wood Review into North Sea Oil and Gas, in order to maximise collaboration and management of resources from the UK Continental Shelf.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd said:

The Energy Act is a vital part of our plan to ensure our families and businesses have access to secure, affordable and clean energy supplies they can rely on, while keeping bills down.

By strengthening the Oil and Gas Authority and giving it powers to drive greater collaboration and efficiency in the industry, this Act shows that the broad shoulders of the UK are committed to helping our oil and gas industry attract investment, support jobs and remain competitive for the future.

Andy Samuel, Chief Executive of the OGA said:

We welcome the news that the Energy Bill has now received Royal Assent. This is an important step in establishing the OGA as an independent government company with the necessary powers, working closely with the industry and government to help maximise the economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources.

In summary the Act:

  • Creates the framework to formally establish the OGA as an independent regulator, taking the form of a government company, so that it can act with greater flexibility and independence. It gives the OGA new powers including: access to external meetings; data acquisition and retention; dispute resolution; and sanctions. It also enables the transfer of the Secretary of State’s existing regulatory powers in respect of oil and gas to the OGA. The Secretary of State’s environmental regulatory functions in relation to oil and gas are not transferred to the OGA.

  • Enables more comprehensive charging of the offshore oil and gas industry in relation to environmental regulatory functions carried out by DECC.

  • Makes local communities the primary decision makers on new onshore wind developments, alongside measures taken by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It removes the need for the Secretary of State’s consent for large onshore wind farms (over 50 megawatt) in England and Wales under the Electricity Act 1989.

  • Brings forward the early closure of the Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme to new onshore wind developments in Great Britain.