Denmark cancels new oil and gas, campaigners say UK must follow suit

Denmark will cancel all future licensing rounds for new oil and gas in the Danish part of the North Sea and end existing production by 2050.


The Danish Parliament has announced that it will cancel all future licensing rounds for new oil and gas exploration and production permits in the Danish part of the North Sea and end existing production by 2050. As a major oil producing country in the EU, Denmark’s announcement is a landmark decision towards the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels.

Additionally, the political agreement allocates money to secure a just transition of impacted workers.

Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK said: 

“This is what climate leadership looks like. All eyes will be on the UK next year as we host crucial climate talks, so our Prime Minister should take note.

“If Johnson wants to keep up and build global momentum for the clean energy transition, he must cancel the next round of oil and gas licencing, end all future exploration and ditch the legal requirement to extract as much as possible from the North Sea basin.

“To recover from this pandemic and to future-proof our economy, we must transform the North Sea into a renewables-only energy industry that creates jobs for workers and powers the UK with clean, affordable energy.”

Helene Hagel, Head of climate and environmental policy at Greenpeace Denmark says:

“This is a watershed moment. Denmark will now set an end date to oil and gas production and bid farewell to the future licensing rounds for oil in the North Sea, so the country can assert itself as a green frontrunner and inspire other countries to end our dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels. This is a huge victory for the climate movement and all the people who have pushed for many years to make it happen.”

“As a major oil producer in the EU and one of the richest countries in the world, Denmark has a moral obligation to end the search for new oil to send a clear signal that the world can and must act to meet the Paris Agreement and mitigate the climate crisis. Denmark is a small country but has potential to punch above its weight and pave the way for the necessary transition to green, renewable energy. Now, the government and political parties need to take the next step and plan a phase-out of existing oil production in the Danish part of the North Sea by 2040.”

Background – oil production in the Danish North Sea

  • For more than 80 years Denmark has allowed exploration for hydrocarbons and since 1972, after the first commercial discovery was made, oil (and later gas) has been produced in the Danish offshore waters of the North Sea.
  • On the Danish continental shelf in the North Sea, there are 55 platforms scattered across 20 oil and gas fields. French oil major Total is responsible for production in 15 of these fields, while UK based INEOS operates in 3 of them, American Hess and German Wintershall in 1 each.
  • In 2019, Denmark produced 103,000 barrels of oil per day, making Denmark the EU’s second largest producer after the UK. Denmark will likely take first place after Brexit. The same year, Denmark produced a total of 3.2 billion cubic meters of fossil gas, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2020.
  • Danish oil and gas production is projected to increase over the coming years before peaking in 2028 and 2026 respectively and will start declining hereafter.




Photos here of the Greenpeace North Sea action (August, 2020) to demand a ban on further oil and gas exploration in Denmark.

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