Spain to ban all oil and gas exploration, increase renewables generation

Spain has become the latest European country to ban all new oil and gas exploration along with other measures to reduce its carbon emissions on the path to net zero by 2050.

The Spanish government passed a piece of wide-ranging legislation which immediately bans new oil and gas concessions, prohibits the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, and makes it illegal to produce fossil fuels in the country from the start of 2043.

Spain’s remaining producing assets are mainly operated by Repsol in the Mediterranean Sea. The Lubina and Montanazo oil fields have a net production of 1,320 barrels per day of oil equivalent, according to the company.

The bill also aims to boost the share of renewable energy in Spain’s power generation mix to 74% by 2030. In addition, Spain’s Congress approved a US$2.06 billion investment plan promoting own-consumption and behind-the-meter battery systems, among others.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s vice-president and minister for ecological transition and demographic challenge, said the law’s approval would be ‘essential’ to the country’s aim to reach net zero emissions by mid-century.

“We set a milestone, a starting point from which we can always look forward and go further, never less. This law addresses complex challenges at a difficult time for our society”, she said.

Spain’s restrictions on fossil fuel-related activities follows a recent move by Denmark to ban new exploration and end its oil and gas production from the North Sea by 2050. In 2017, France agreed to phase out fossil fuel production by 2040, while Ireland banned new onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration in 2018.