Future Vision

As we look forward to the middle of this century, it is clear that how the energy sector operates will undergo considerable change. The challenges of climate change, a circular sustainable economy and environmental impacts on economic activity will require new approaches in terms of how we think about mobility and transportation, industrial operations and manufacturing, as well as heating and waste management.

Companies within the UK downstream oil sector, making use of their international links and expertise, can individually develop new ideas, strategies and technologies needed to successfully navigate the years ahead. As in all sectors, downstream oil will need to consider how it can contribute to decarbonisation goals, whilst providing security, reliability and affordable products to wider society.

To do this we need a clear vision for the future of our industry.

The UKPIA Future Vision seeks to provide just that. Whilst not looking to predict or prescribe how the future sector will look, UKPIA has set out to paint a vivid picture of the range of possibilities on offer for the refining and fuel marketing industries. As we do so, we also outline the opportunities available through innovation to achieve a circular economy thanks to developments in feedstocks, operations, fuels and products.

UKPIA's vision for the long-term future of the downstream oil sector is a positive one.

It is a future where low-carbon liquid fuels and products can make as much of a contribution to decarbonising the transport we use as can Electric Vehicles (EVs). Where refinery manufacturing processes can operate with maximum efficiency, potentially utilising carbon-reducing technologies such as carbon capture, or working with other sectors in industrial clusters to decarbonise together. Where individual downstream oil companies can utilise their expertise and infrastructure to deliver low-carbon fuels and products directly to the consumer, potentially in an entirely reimagined forecourt experience.

A successful future downstream oil sector is not in conflict with the UK's low-carbon goals, nor is its role merely as a stepping stone in the transition away from fossil fuels. Our industry is a key part of the UK's low-carbon energy future.


UK downstream oil companies will each have multiple options to transform in order to continue to provide socio-economic benefits to all. Across the UK changes that could be make may occur over time and without uniformity: achievements in decarbonising light road vehicles will likely occur more easily than for heavy goods vehicles or in aviation; carbon capture technology or industrial clustering might prove to be better suited to certain facilities than others. However, regardless of the shape these changes may take, the fact remains in the short-, medium- and long-term there will be an important role for liquid hydrocarbons in the UK.

In setting out this vision, we offer policymakers and wider society a snapshot of how - supported by an overarching policy framework and industrial strategy - the downstream oil sector can be a key contributor to solving society's challenges: it can continue to support hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled jobs, achieve significant carbon emissions reductions, and help realise the UK Government's ambitions to create industrial clusters.

As the world changes - through consumer demand, government policy changes and bold technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and the development of new fuels - the downstream oil sector companies each have a golden opportunity to synchronise with society's goals of sustainability, better management of carbon and continued economic growth.

Click here to read UKPIA's Future Vision for the UK downstream oil sector.

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