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Latest 02 February 2024

Tory donor’s oil and gas firm offered another license to drill

The latest round of North Sea oil and gas licenses is bad news for the future of our planet, but good news for the profit forecasts of a Tory donor’s company.

The Government has just greenlit new licenses to 17 oil and gas companies to drill in the North Sea, as it continues to dismiss the warnings of its own climate advisors that “the expansion of fossil fuel production is not in line with net zero”. 

Amongst these companies is EnQuest Heather, a subsidiary of Tory donor Amjad Bseisu’s oil and gas empire. Since 2013, Bseisu has given almost half a million to the Conservative Party in cash and in kind and has been a member of its secretive Leader’s Group, which offers exclusive access to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers.

“The Government’s backing of a North Sea oil and gas extravaganza to help corporations and a wealthy few make huge profits instead of investing in cheaper and greener energy sources will come at huge cost to our environment and our economy” said Good Law Project’s Legal Director, Emma Dearnaley. “Do Ministers think this a price worth paying just to keep their Party donors happy?”

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Last May, EnQuest also bagged Carbon Storage Licenses from the Government-sponsored regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).

These new licenses followed an NSTA investigation which found that EnQuest Heather had been responsible for illegal gas flaring in the North Sea. The NSTA issued a fine of £150,000. But this is just 15% of the maximum penalty that could have been applied and less than a third of what Amjad Bseisu has shelled out to the Tory party. 

The Minister for Net Zero, Graham Stuart welcomed the offer of more licenses for fossil fuel drilling in the North Sea, repeating previously debunked claims about how they will strengthen the UK’s energy security and give us a cleaner domestic supply of gas.

EnQuest and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero have been contacted for further comment.

We’re not going to let the Government get away with shrugging off its obligations to tackle the climate emergency. That’s why we’ve teamed up with ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth to take the Government to court later this month over its inadequate net zero strategy.

  • Our three-day hearing begins at the High Court on Tuesday 20 February – part of a wider legal challenge with Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth against the Government over its failing net zero plan. Anything you can give to support our side of this legal challenge will help us make positive change.