Saturday, August 21, 2021

Who Owns the North Sea?

Over the last three years Who Owns England has been diligently trying to map who owns what land in England (and also to a lesser extent in Scotland and Wales). Another really important question, especially considering the current climate crisis, is 'Who owns the sea?'.

Who Owns the North Sea is an interactive map and database documenting the owners of oil and gas licenses in the North Sea. The oil reserves in the North Sea ensure that the UK is the second largest oil and gas producer in Europe. The UK government sells licenses to these fossil fuel assets to the private sector. These licenses grant companies the exclusive rights to extract oil and gas in a defined area.

If you click on any of the red markers on the Who Owns the North Sea interactive map you can view details on all the equity holders of that license. You can also see who is the ultimate parent company. If you click on a parent company's name in the map sidebar then all the licenses owned by that company in the North Sea will be shown in black.

In recent years the major oil and gas companies (such as Exxon Mobil, BP, and Shell) have been divesting their holdings in the North Sea. Private equity-backed and state-owned companies have begun to move in and control more and more fossil-fuel licenses in the North Sea. 

As we hopefully begin to move to a more carbon free future the ability to control and regulate the license holders in the North Sea will become increasingly important. While the big oil and gas companies have appalling records in terms of protecting the environment and halting climate change the new private equity and state-owned companies may prove even worse. Many environmentalists are worried that these private-equity companies and companies controlled by undemocratic countries may prove even harder to hold accountable and regulate.

No comments: