The Downstream Oil Resilience Draft Bill 2021 – introduction and implications
The Downstream Oil Resilience Draft Bill 2021 (the “Bill”) was presented to the UK Parliament in June 2021. This followed a consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on fuel resilience measures which was conducted in 2017¹. A keen reader will note that in the past four years a number of defining events have taken place, including Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, which have profoundly changed the UK’s energy landscape and sharply increased the emphasis on energy transition and decarbonisation. One may question therefore whether the consultation undertaken during 2020/2021 would have led to the same outcome and, conversely, whether the outcome of that consultation should be taken as a blueprint for legislative changes today.
The downstream oil sector in the UK comprises over 200 companies involved in the refining, importing, storage, distribution/transportation and marketing of petroleum products, such as petrol, diesel, and aviation and heating fuels. The explanatory section of the Bill sets out that this sector continues to play a key role in UK energy security, supplying products that are vital to the UK’s economy and way of life, as well as providing employment to a significant part of the population. It also states that oil-based fuels are currently the UK’s main source of energy for transport (96%) and supplied over 44% of its final energy demand in 2019.