THE Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has announced it is exploring the potential for a more integrated offshore energy sector, including ways to build closer links between oil and gas production and offshore renewables.

The OGA confirmed it had secured a £900,000 grant to begin the project, which will look at the mix of energy sources storage solutions required for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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These solutions could include powering offshore oil and gas platforms from renewable sources, monetisation of offshore-produced gas via in-situ power generation, offshore hydrogen production and transportation and carbon dioxide capture, transportation and storage using legacy oil and gas infrastructure.

Dr Andy Samuel, chief executive of the OGA said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to advance the energy transition agenda, looking at practical steps that can be taken and how we as regulators can support that.

“Oil and gas will be required to power our economy and heat our homes for the foreseeable future, but to me it is clear there are great opportunities now to more closely link up all forms of offshore energy production to generate power more cleanly and efficiently.”

The OGA is working alongside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), The Crown Estate, Ofgem and other stakeholders to test for short-term technical and regulatory opportunities, while also looking into the long-term to maximise the value of the UK Continental Shelf through energy integration.

The government agency has advised that this can also enhance the value of the existing infrastructure; skills, technology and supply chains.

The project will conclude in spring 2020.

Will Apps, head of energy development at The Crown Estate welcomed the project.

He said: “As managers of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we are pleased to be working with the Oil and Gas Authority and other partners to support this project, helping to pave the way for greater market innovation in the critical area of energy integration, and support the UK’s ongoing transition to a low carbon energy mix.”

The OGA has been looking into how it can support the UK’s energy transition alongside its main role of maximising economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas.

This work has included the publication of a flaring and venting policy, and the awarding of its first CCS carbon dioxide appraisal and storage license. The OGA is due to publish a policy position on its role in energy transition in the spring.

The Scottish Government aims to get half of all energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, and to decarbonise the system almost completely by 2050.