Yellowhammer: No-deal Brexit would undermine domestic oil industry, official document reveals

The impacts detailed in the document are classed as a "plausible" "worst-case scenario" in  the event of no-deal

Published after MPs voted in favour of making the document public on Monday (9 September), the six-page dossier outlines what the Government believes will happen in a “plausible” but “worst-case” no-deal scenario.

Michael Gove, former Environment Secretary and incumbent Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, had said ahead of the vote that the publication of the document would be “inappropriate in principle and in practice”, and “would on its own terms purport to require the government to contravene the law, and is singularly unfair to the named individuals”.

However, MPs voted 311 to 302 in favour of its publication.

Alongside measures regarding immigration, citizenship and access to healthcare, the document lays bare the likely impacts of a no-deal Brexit on the water and energy sectors, as well as on sustainable fisheries.

On energy, the document states that there will be no disruption to the UK’s electricity and gas interconnectors, meaning that national energy demands will continue to be met.

However, it touts “significant” increases in the cost of electricity, for both business and domestic consumers, as a result of “wider economic and political impacts”. These rising costs, it notes, will hit low-income areas and households the most, including those already affected by fuel poverty.

With regards to water, the dossier states that services offered by the water industry are likely to remain “largely unaffected” and states that the most likely point of failure will be in the chemical supply chain. The chances of such a failure happening, it claims, are “considered low” – but such an event, it adds, would likely affect hundreds of thousands of people.

Nothing is specifically mentioned in the dossier in regards to oil. However, many political experts and investigative reporters have published the document’s only redacted paragraph online, which appears to address this topic.

The excerpt circulating in this community states: “Tariffs make UK petrol exports to the EU uncompetitive.

“Industry had plans to mitigate the impact on refinery margins and profitability, but UK Government policy to set petrol import tariffs at 0% inadvertently undermines these plans.”

It goes on to detail that this financial challenge will likely lead to the permanent closure of two refineries, resulting in strike and protest action, and, consequently, disruptions to fuel availability in some areas.

Responding to the document, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said that “it is now more important than ever” for parliament to be recalled and scrutinise the documents to prevent a no-deal scenario before 31 October.

However, Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has dismissed the document’s contents as “scaremongering”.

Readers interested to learn more about how Brexit is likely to impact the green economy and green policy are encouraged to download edie’s free Brexit matrix, or to listen to our Sustainable Business Covered podcast’s special episodes on the topic.

Sarah George

Comments (5)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Ah but the "greens" want us all to instantly stop using fossil fuels so isn’t this music to their ears?

    Or will it prove once and for all just how important hydrocarbons are to our modern, technological lifestyles?

    Just a shame their beloved wind turbines need a lot of hydrocarbons for production and maintenance, their solar panels are made from petrochemicals and the wiring in their panacea Electric Vehicles are all insulated with plastic.

  2. Rick Greenough says:

    I know one should never feed the trolls, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your comment is genuine.
    Nobody imagines that we can stop using fossil fuels instantly and most of us understand that hydrocarbons drove the industrial revolution and continue to underpin our lifestyles. However it is quite clear that we need to get ourselves off this addiction as quickly as possible. We can all decide to walk more and drive less, to trade in the thirsty IC engine car for a hybrid or EV, or to consider investing in solar PV. The important question is how to motivate these kinds of behaviour change.
    As to the hydrocarbons embodied in cleantech products like wind turbines, why not educate yourself about carbon payback times? As an example the carbon payback period for a 1.65 MW wind turbine in India is 50 days and for a 25 kW solar PV system it is 144 days.

  3. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Rick, I understand all about "carbon payback" but the point is the "greenies" want to stop using all forms of hydrocarbons if they have their ultimate way. After all they would love to see the Oil and Gas industry collapse given some of the hysteria they promote about the industry.

    The point is even if we stop burning oil and gas tomorrow, something that I personally agree we have got to do as much as possible, we will continue to need the Oil and Gas Industry to find and recover petroleum for many decades to come in order to produce the very products the "greens" want us to use.

    Can I ask you if you have decided to walk to the supermarket and carry all your groceries home on a regular basis? Or if you have traded in your ICE vehicle for an EV one? And do you have fancy solar panels on your roof?

  4. Rick Greenough says:

    Hi Keiron,
    Thanks for your reply. Perhaps you should distinguish between the very small hardcore of deep greens that might or might not want to stop using all hydrocarbons and the much larger group that have a more pragmatic approach to the climate emergency. I’d count myself in the latter group and yes I do walk to the Co-Op for my shopping (apart from the stuff that comes in a van from Tesco Direct), I did trade our much loved MX-5 for a plug-in hybrid (Ampera) and we have fitted solar PV and solar thermal to our roof. I know I’m privileged to be able to afford the car and the solar panels, but much of this is about making choices. Driving an EV is no sacrifice at all – believe me.

  5. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Rick, respect to you for doing all of those things.

    I’ve looked at solar for my house and it simply isn’t financially viable given where I live (wettest town in Europe) and solar water heating is equally non viable. I tried a thermodynamic HW system but it was a total disaster and has soured my experience of the renewables industry as a whole. I do source my electricity from a sustainable/renewables supplier and have fitted a smart heating control system, lagged all my heating pipes and optimised my hot water tank which has reduced my oil bill by nearly 20%.

    Right now Electric Vehicles still have a problem for me. They are either way too large for my needs and therefore expensive or don’t have the range to cope with the kind of remote driving I have to do on a regular basis (160 miles coast to coast through mountains). So I replaced my old petrol car (when it was written off) with a newer, more fuel efficient version increasing my fuel economy by 15%. Perhaps as range increases, costs come down and ultra fast recharge stations appear as regularly as unleaded petrol pumps I too will switch.

    But as my supermarket is an hours walk away and it rains a lot where I live most people might talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk. I have done it with my trusty 65 litre rucksack (made from synthetic fabrics) and honestly I’ll take the car every time, even the bus takes over 90 mins for the return journey (including the walk to the bus stop, the waiting and the walk to the supermarket).

    Problem is the hardcore "greens" are the ones screaming and shouting and to whom the powers that be seem to be listening to most. Common sense and scientific reason are being throw out the window for the sake of "being seen to be green". Just look at the hoohah over MacDonald’s straws for instance.

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