Oil in the North Sea comes under focus

EXCLUSIVE: New documentary examines impact of fossil fuel infrastructure in the North Sea on our economies, societies and planet.

By hearing very different opinions about the future of North Sea oil, we hope to look at the real complexities of transitioning from oil as a society.

A hard hitting documentary exploring the oil industry and its impacts on the biosphere and human societies directed by Emma Davie will premiere at the Sheffield DocFest on Saturday, 25 June 2022.

The Oil Machine explores our economic, historical and emotional entanglement with oil by looking at the conflicting imperatives around North Sea oil. 

Emma Davie, the director, told The Ecologist: “This documentary was initiated by a sense of the urgency of addressing the issue of the oil in our own backyard. We wanted to express an emotional as well as analytical look at where we are at with North Sea Oil.


"There seemed to be a need to understand how interwoven and embedded oil is in so many fundamental aspects of our lives so we wanted to bring together disparate voices involved in the interlinking worlds of oil, finance, activism who would normally never dialogue together.

"Global oil production was barely mentioned in the COP agreement but it is responsible for 60 percent of emissions. Sir David King points out that we only have five years to make big changes - how can we address the crucial question of oil in our own backyard?”

Sonja Henrici, the film's producer, said: “Since COP26 the global context of oil has totally changed with more pressure for local production and energy security, but there is still an imperative to shift things to avoid climate disaster.

"We were not seeking easy answers, but felt that the problems needed to be clearly named and explored for us to move forward.

"By hearing very different opinions about the future of North Sea oil, we hope to look at the real complexities of transitioning from oil as a society."


The film shows how a young generation of climate activists are taking action because of the signs of impending chaos, and the very real threat of global sea level rises.

At the same time, oil workers see their livelihoods under threat and investors seek to protect their assets. The Oil Machine explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly can we do it.

The filmmakers have interviewed oil company executives, economists, young activists, pension fund managers and asks how this colossal machine can be tamed, dismantled, or repurposed. 

Among those interviewed are climate campaigner Holly Gillibrand; Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change, Manchester University; Emeka Emembolu a senior vice president at BP North Sea and Jake Molloy, a regional organiser for the RMT Union.

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from ARPR.

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