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UK downstream oil sector maps out its future in a low-carbon world

09 July 2019

A new report from the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) outlines the opportunities across the downstream oil sector – from the refinery to the forecourt – that can help companies decarbonise their operations, provide a new generation of low-carbon liquid fuels to consumers and ensure that the industry continues to be a major contributor to the UK economy.

Conclusions from the report include:

* By 2050 demand for liquid fuels will change, but they will still be needed.

* The fuels we use today could be made low-carbon on a lifecycle basis, efficiently using existing distribution infrastructure and without having to wait for a new car fleet.

* Many opportunities exist for the downstream oil sector to work with other industries – particularly in industrial clusters – to achieve at-scale decarbonisation, especially thanks to energy efficiency improvements and new technologies such as carbon capture.

* Refineries of the Future can be vanguard R&D hubs for low-carbon liquid fuels, which can help society realise its climate change ambitions as well as offering opportunity to increase exports of low-carbon products and expertise.

With the sector currently making an annual contribution to UK GDP of £21.2 billion and supporting around 300,000 jobs, the UKPIA ‘Future Vision’ report calls for a technology neutral investment climate that will further incentivise the downstream oil industry to make the changes to operate in a low-carbon world.

UKPIA Director-General Stephen Marcos Jones, said, “Achieving the enormously challenging targets of reducing emissions to net-zero by 2050, recently put into law by the UK Government, will require a complete transformation of the UK energy system. The downstream oil sector has a major opportunity to be an enabler for this transition to a low-carbon economy. However, it will require pragmatic and supportive policymaking to encourage companies to make the investments of time, personnel, capital and business leadership necessary to achieve these goals.”

The UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) represents eight oil refining and marketing companies that operate the six major oil refineries in the UK and source over 85% of the transport fuels used. UKPIA members also own around 1,250 of the UK's 8,476 filling stations in the UK.

The UKPIA Future Vision: The Downstream Oil Sector in a Low-Carbon World report is available at or in hard copy on request from the UKPIA Press Office.

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