The UK North Sea as a Global Experiment in Resource Extraction

This report by Juan Carlos Boué was published by ScotE3 with support from PCS and Platform, and edited by Transition Economics’s Mika Minio-Paluello.

Juan Carlos Boué’s report (pdf download) analyses the UK’s North Sea oil tax regime, which has handed super-profits to international oil companies while the taxpayer now foots the bill for decommissioning.

Boué argues that, since the 1970s, these tax arrangements have been “at the forefront of the process of redefinition of the economic frontiers of the State”. These “neoliberal governance structures”, designed in the UK, were exported across the world in the 1980s and 1990s, along with privatisation and “market liberalisation”. The global spread of the UK governance model did produce oil production gains, Boué concludes, “but also destabilised many key petroleum producers, whose governments found themselves starved of fiscal income”.

Boué brings the story right up to date, showing how, as North Sea oil production declines, the government has pushed the burden of decommissioning costs on to the public purse, while the oil companies eke out every last drop of oil, and of profit, from their operations.

Download report:


How can public ownership in Offshore Wind deliver good jobs for the climate transition?

Watch Anna’s video presentation at STUC energy conference in Glasgow, 20 November 2019.


Who Owns the Wind, Owns the Future

Offshore wind is going to play a central role in the UK’s energy and industrial future in the 21st century. The UK has one of the richest offshore wind resources in the world. Turbine installation will continue apace, heading for 30, 40 or 50 GW in the next two decades.

Research carried out by Transition Economics for Labour Energy Forum reveals the first breakdown of the UK’s offshore wind by country and ownership status:

Out of 10.4 GW of offshore wind (operating and under construction)

  • 92.7% is owned by non-UK entities
  • 7.3% is owned by UK entities (excl GIB)
  • 51.2% of UK offshore wind is publicly-owned
  • 0.07% is owned by UK public entities

“Who Owns the Wind, Owns the Future” lays out how public ownership of the UK’s offshore wind can

  • Speed up deployment of offshore wind
  • Help deliver a Just Transition for workers and communities
  • Capture the value offshore wind creates for the British public, including residents, firms and workers
  • Revitalise UK industry and create institutions to drive industrial strategy
  • Minimise costs to energy users, including households and industry

21st century public ownership of wind means a diversity of institutional forms, accountable to local residents, able to support and shape local economies, deliver energy justice and accelerate the transition.

We recommend that devolved governments, councils and central government co-operate to set up the most appropriate entities to invest into, develop, build and/or maintain offshore wind farms.