Liz Truss ‘will approve more oil drilling if she becomes PM’ | Oil

Liz Truss will sign off on a push for more oil drilling in the North Sea if she wins the Conservative leadership election, according to reports, drawing criticism from environmental campaigners.

Amid mounting public dismay about soaring energy bills, Truss’s policy advisers are thought to be discussing proposals to issue up to 130 new drilling licences, which typically take nearly three decades to produce any oil and gas.

The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, and the Brexit opportunities minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, have been meeting oil and gas firms to discuss how to secure energy supplies this winter, the Times reported.

The discussions reportedly involve importing more gas from Norway in the short term, while ramping up domestic production. The climate change committee has previously said it takes an average of 28 years for an exploration licence to lead to oil and gas production.

The Greenpeace chief UK scientist, Dr Doug Parr, said intensifying North Sea drilling would do little to bring down energy bills.

“Unleashing a North Sea drilling frenzy isn’t a plan to help bill payers but a gift to the fossil fuel giants already making billions from this crisis,” he said.

“New oil and gas could take a quarter of a century to pump out, will be eventually sold at global prices, and have no real impact on energy bills yet still fuel the climate crisis.”

He said the UK’s dependence on gas was among the factors driving up bills and called for faster action to promote new wind and solar projects, as well as improving energy efficiency by insulating UK homes, which are among the leakiest in Europe.

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He added: “If Liz Truss really wants to help cash-strapped households, she should bring in an energy bill freeze alongside extra financial support for the poorest households, partly funded by properly taxing the astronomical profits of oil and gas companies.”

Truss’s North Sea plan comes against the backdrop of a continent-wide scramble to secure gas supplies before the winter, after Vladimir Putin began choking off pipeline flows amid a geopolitical standoff over his invasion of Ukraine.

The UK relies more heavily on gas than most European countries and has very little storage after the closure of the Rough facility off the Yorkshire coast in 2017. Labour has previously called on Truss to explain her part in the government’s acquiescence to the closure of Rough.

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