Commonwealth launches pioneering toolkit for speeding up oil and gas decarbonisation


Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patrica Scotland KC, yesterday launched a toolkit to help governments rapidly decarbonise their oil and gas sectors and implement strategies to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The Field Development Plan (FDP) Toolkit adopts a project-based approach for countries to expedite well-known decarbonisation solutions. These include avoiding flaring and venting, methane leaks, use of renewable energy, improved efficiency, and carbon capture.

Speaking at an event on the margins of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), in Dubai, the Secretary-General said: “We need to inject urgency into our actions to deliver the drastic emissions reductions required to avert the catastrophic consequences of climate change. “Rapid decarbonisation in the oil and gas sector is technically feasible and by using the new toolkit, governments can take action in a relatively short time span.”

Countries face many barriers in decarbonising the oil and gas industry, including a lack of expertise, capacity and enabling frameworks. The Field Development Plan (FDP) Toolkit is designed specifically to help government officials address regulatory gaps. It takes a comprehensive approach by providing practical tools for the effective governance of emissions over the whole life cycle of a project.

The toolkit includes model legal provisions and national FDP submission guidelines to facilitate the seamless integration of greenhouse gas (GHG) management plans at the project level. This provides a clear path for each project to have the lowest possible emissions, including near-zero methane emissions.

In addition, the toolkit recommends the adoption of net-zero projects as part of GHG management plans. Companies would have to provide clear strategies on how unavoidable emissions would be offset, against which, governments would be able to track progress.

Naadira Ogeer, Economic Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat and the author of the toolkit, explained that some countries have a large number of petroleum projects, each with different emissions profiles.

She said: “Many petroleum producing countries have made commitments to become net zero by 2050 and doing so needs a net-zero oil and gas sector. The most effective way to underpin a net-zero sector strategy is to have credible and transparent net-zero projects. “The toolkit, in particular the National FDP Submission Guidelines, can be an effective regulatory mechanism for net-zero projects. Critically, the project level transparency provides much needed credibility on carbon offsetting. “If these offsets are within national jurisdictions, it could help advance a just energy transition by providing financing for renewable energy and reforestation projects.”

The toolkit also includes guidance on various economic, social, environmental and transparency matters to help governments with informed decision-making and a just, equitable energy transition.

This is part of a package of resources for governments including a decommissioning toolkit and a carbon tax model law developed by the Commonwealth to assist countries to decarbonise and manage an orderly energy transition.

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