JUST 10% of people in the UK think more oil and gas production will reduce bills and increase energy security, according to a new poll.

Research by YouGov published on Wednesday - which surveyed almost 2500 people - found that just one in 10 people believed more oil, gas and coal is the best way to reduce energy bills. 

It comes after the UK Government's regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, gave the go-ahead for the Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea to be developed. 

The Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor owns the site, which could produce as much as 9000 tonnes of oil per day. 

But YouGov's polling found that just 8% of people surveyed thought increasing fossil fuel production is the best way to increase energy security.

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Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Claire Coutinho said the UK Government will “continue to back the UK’s oil and gas industry to underpin our energy security” following the Rosebank announcement.

However, Equinor UK boss Arne Gurtner was asked at a press conference on Wednesday morning where the oil from Rosebank would actually go. 

He said: “The oil goes to international markets. It will be offloaded from the field.

“We currently can’t say where it will go, for sure – however we do know that with the lack of Russian oil coming to Europe, we see the market situation as such that most of the oil produced in Europe actually goes to Europe.

“If the UK needs the Rosebank oil, it will actually get it. That is pertaining to the open global market system which today ensures the UK receives much more oil and gas than it is producing on the UKCS (UK Continental Shelf) side.”

The National: Campaigners take part in a Stop Rosebank emergency protest outside the UK Government building in EdinburghCampaigners take part in a Stop Rosebank emergency protest outside the UK Government building in Edinburgh (Image: Jane Barlow)

Many researchers, campaigners and opposition MPs have thus questioned whether adding a significant amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is worth any economic and security gains.

Campaign group Global Witness, which commissioned the poll, said the results show that the UK public overwhelmingly prefer new renewables to fossil fuels.

When asked which energy source would best serve the UK’s energy security, 56% of the public chose more renewables, followed by 20% who chose more nuclear – compared with the 8% who backed fossil fuels.

Similarly, 53% chose renewables when it came to the best way to reduce energy bills, followed by 18% who chose more nuclear.

Elsewhere, the poll showed that 42% would prefer to wind down North Sea oil and gas production, compared with 33% preferring to exploit all economically viable supplies.

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The support for extraction was much weaker among younger generations, with 17% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 21% of 24 to 49-year-olds backing the option.

Among those aged 50-64, support for extraction increases to 39% and increases again up to 57% in the 65-plus age group.

Dominic Kavakeb, co-director of campaigns at Global Witness, said: “The public are clear, even if the Government is not: new oilfields like Rosebank won’t make the UK safer, and they won’t lower energy bills.

“By a large margin, the UK public want to see more renewables, not more oil and gas.

“The Government claims that Rosebank will strengthen our energy security, but the vast majority will be exported on to global markets.

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“Approving Rosebank is an act of economic vandalism that only serves the fossil fuel industry and is woefully out of touch with public opinion.”

Coutinho defended the decision of the North Sea Transition Authority. 

She said: “We are investing in our world-leading renewable energy but, as the independent Climate Change Committee recognise, we will need oil and gas as part of that mix on the path to net zero and so it makes sense to use our own supplies from North Sea fields such as Rosebank.

“The jobs and billions of pounds this is worth to our economy will enable us to have greater energy independence, making us more secure against tyrants like (Russian president Vladimir) Putin.

“We will continue to back the UK’s oil and gas industry to underpin our energy security, grow our economy and help us deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner energy.”