Reports of a gas leak at a North Sea platform could be a disturbing glimpse of the future, especially for chancellor George Osborne, who just last week championed gas and oil in his budget statement.
“Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years”, he said, during a not-so-green speech in parliament on a day that some environmental commentators have called “Black Wednesday”.
But less than a week after this disappointing claim, the fossil fuel industry has once again proven its susceptibility to catastrophe after a gas leak at a Total platform on Sunday forced 283 workers to evacuate.
The Elgin production, utilities and quarters (PUQ) platform, located 150 miles off the coast of Aberdeen, now has an exclusion zone around it. Oil giant Shell has moved 120 non-essential staff from its nearby Shearwater platform and Hans Deul drilling rig, because of the sheen of condensed gas reported to be drifting on top of the water.
“I also want to ensure that we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea”, said Osborne in his budget statement.
With increased extraction comes increased risk. And as the oil and gas reserves diminish in the area, extraction becomes ever more difficult, forcing both the risk and expense to increase in tandem.
This disaster-in-waiting should be a wake-up call for the “greenest ever government”. Just days into its 2012 budget, its support of fossil fuels is already linked with endangered lives, an endangered environment and, potentially, an endangered economy.
As proven in our new report, The Rise of Renewable Energy, renewable energy doesn’t carry such costly consequences. The Government needs to think carefully about decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels and focus more heavily on cleanly sourced power.
At a community or individual level, Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity provider, is a good place to begin.
Picture source: Enrico Strocchi