Truss to give North Sea drilling green light in major energy crisis boost to tackle bills

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Truss to give North Sea drilling green light in major energy crisis boost to tackle bills

The Foreign Secretary, who is well ahead in the race to become the next Prime Minister, is expected to approve a series of licenses for sites in th

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The Foreign Secretary, who is well ahead in the race to become the next Prime Minister, is expected to approve a series of licenses for sites in the North Sea. Ms Truss and her allies, which include Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, have reportedly been meeting industry firms to explore striking a supply deal.

They are said to be looking to Norway, already Britain’s main gas supplier, and are hoping to ramp up domestic homegrown production of energy too.

Mr Rees-Mogg is also understood to have met with energy giant Shell and Total, but there is some confusion as to whether he was simply performing his role as a Brexit Minister or attending as a Liz Truss supporter.

Ms Truss’ senior team reportedly claims the meetings were set up by civil servants not linked to her campaign, but multiple Government departments have refused to comment.

It comes after industry regulator Ofgem announced on Friday that the price cap for October will reach £3,582, an 82 percent hike which threatens to push millions of homes into fuel poverty.

This also comes as fear of winter shortages soared after it emerged that the UK could face a four-day period of planned blackouts in a “worst-case scenario” energy plan.

Other reports have suggested that the Government could ask Britons to turn off the lights and turn down their thermostats in a bid to swerve blackouts.

The document seen by The Sunday Telegraph also reportedly suggested that the Government could ask Britons to avoid taking longer showers and limit lighting and heating via radio, TV, posters and leaflets.

Ms Truss has suggested she wants to ramp up domestic energy production as fast as possible as a response.

Insiders claim she will invite applications for up to 130 licences if she wins the Tory leadership contest.

Ms Truss’ Government is also expected to encourage oil and gas companies to invest in their existing sites to further boost production.

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The North Sea still has the equivalent of around 15 billion barrels of gas and oil, Offshore Energies UK estimates based on figures from the North Sea Transition Authority.

But many experts and campaigners have claimed that providing more exploration licenses are unlikely to immediately ease prices as the gas and oil will be sold on global markets.

For instance, in the first six months of the year, British oil and gas production saw a 26 percent rise.

Offshore Energies UK said this is enough to heat 3.5 million homes a year, yet prices are still soaring and are only expected to get worse.

In fact, following the October price cap, the January cap is expected to reach over £5,000, a staggering cost that EDF has warned could push half of UK households into fuel poverty.

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But Mr Kwarteng, who is also expected to become the next Chancellor if Ms Truss wins, has maintained that maximising North Sea production will protect Britain’s energy security.

Back in May, he wrote a letter urging the industry to reinvest profits in the North Sea, as well as in clean energy technologies.

But climate activists have argued that new oil and gas needs to stay in the ground as the impacts of the climate crisis get laid bare following scorching record-breaking heatwaves in Britain.

It comes after North Sea site Jackdaw got regulatory approval back in June.

Mr Kwarteng said that while Britain it “turbocharging” renewables, argued we need to “source more of the gas we need from British waters to protect energy security.”

But Ami McCarthy, a political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, called the Jackdaw approval “a desperate and destructive decision”.

She said: “They could immediately shave billions off bills, get a grip on UK energy demand, create thousands of jobs, boost our economy, tackle the climate crisis and avoid future crises – if they just upgrade homes to be warmer and greener, and invest in clean and cheap renewable power.

“But instead, once again, they’re handing out lucrative permits to the likes of Shell for a project that won’t start producing gas for years, that won’t lower our bills, but will create massive emissions, causing deadly flooding and wildfires.”



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