As part of its long-term commitment to end all fossil fuel extraction by 2050, Denmark has called an immediate end to oil and gas exploration in its area of the North Sea.
The country’s government decided to cancel the country’s most recent licensing round, which had only one applicant remaining after Total pulled out. While Denmark’s oil and gas production is relatively low compared to the UK and Norway, the decision marks the end of an era for the country. Denmark has benefitted financially from its oil and gas industry since the 1970s, and this has helped support one of the most generous welfare systems in Europe.
The country’s energy minister, Dan Jorgensen, told the BBC:
“We want to be climate neutral in 2050. And if we are to have any credibility in that, then this is a necessary decision.”
Jorgensen added that Denmark’s growing offshore wind sector, as well as the development of carbon capture and storage technology, will help offset the loss of approximately 4,000 jobs that rely on the oil and gas sector.
Despite Denmark’s decision, it is perhaps a little early to write off the North Sea oil industry just yet. Oil and gas are going to be required as fuels for some years to come, and even then, crude oil will still be required as feedstock to make products like spindle oil and cutting fluid. Gas fields may also play a role in the green economy in the form of “blue” hydrogen, where carbon from “grey” hydrogen production is largely captured and stored.