The UK will be forced to import almost three-quarters of its gas by 2030 as North Sea reserves are depleted, according to analysis of official forecasts.
Some 70pc of Britain’s gas is forecast to come from abroad by 2030, figures show, rising to 80pc a decade later and 85pc by 2050.
The figures are based on production projections from the Oil and Gas Authority and estimates of energy demand by Government adviser, the Climate Change Committee. The analysis was performed by the Financial Times.
The UK is under pressure from environmental campaigners to scale back North Sea projects.
Shell’s decision to pull out of the Cambo oilfield in December was seen as a turning point, signalling the “death-knell” for North Sea exploration.
Six projects in the region were approved last year with 10 others awaiting approval in 2022, although the Government has vowed not to end drilling immediately despite seeking to go carbon neutral by the middle of the century.
The International Energy Agency has warned that all new oil and gas projects must be stopped to reach net zero targets.
But ministers have resisted a blanket ban as they ramp up renewable energy production.
Instead they have said the granting of new oil and gas licences would need to pass a “climate compatibility” test.
Energy minister Greg Hands said: “Flicking a switch and turning off our domestic source of gas overnight would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk and we would be even more dependent on imports.”
BP chief executive Bernard Looney said on Tuesday that Britain needs “more gas, not less”, which will need additional investment by the FTSE 100 company.
BP posted profits of $12.8bn (£9.5bn) for 2021 on the back of soaring global oil and gas prices which are set to push household bills up by 56pc in April to £2,000 a year, sparking calls from the Labour party for a tax raid.
Mr Looney said: “A windfall tax isn’t probably going to incentivise more investment,” he said.