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UK energy imports

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), fossil fuels account for most of the UK’s energy consumption. Despite the fact the renewable energy use is growing, particularly in the electric power sector, fossil fuels accounted for 86% of total primary energy consumption in 2012.


The UK first became a significant net coal importer following the removal of domestic production subsidies and trade barriers in the 1980s.


With the opening of North Sea production, the UK also became a significant net exporter of crude oil beginning in the early 1980s, but has been a net importer since 2005.


Rising North Sea production enabled the UK to reduce its net imports of imported gas beginning in the mid-1980s. For almost a decade, the UK actually became a net natural gas exporter, before again becoming an importer starting in 2004 as consumption rose and production declined.

Petroleum products

The EIA highlights that even as it became a net crude oil importer in 2005, the UK remained a net exporter of refined petroleum products. However, refiners in the UK and throughout Europe face increasing challenges, including higher crude costs and decreasing competitiveness in export markets, due in part to the rapid growth of tight oil and shale gas production in the US. This has led to refinery shutdowns and lower utilisation rates. AS a result, the UK became a net importer of petroleum products in 2013.


The UK government has introduced a number of regulations to increase the use of renewable energy, in the aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions. These regulations call for renewables to provide 30% of total electricity generation by 2020.

Renewables accounted for approximately 15% of total electricity generation in 2013, with more than half produced by wind power. The UK is a world leader in offshore wind capacity, and last month the UK government approved the construction of the world’s largest offshore wind far, the 1.2 gigawatt East Anglia ONE project.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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