“North Sea oil has been an invisible machine at the core of the UK. It now faces an uncertain future as activists and investors demand change. Is the era of North Sea oil over?
This documentary draws on the voices of young activists, oil company executives, economists and pension fund managers to explore the vital questions that affect all our lives. We have 5-10 years to control our oil addiction, and yet the licensing of new oil fields such as the Cambo oil field off Shetland is seen to be in direct contradiction to the government’s alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement and hosting of COP.
There is also a look at how the drama of global climate action is playing out in the fight over North Sea oil. Oil companies are convinced that they can continue to keep drilling while keeping to net zero ambitions through adopting new technologies, such as carbon capture. But climate scientists are deeply sceptical of the net zero concept and the time it would take for these technologies to be effective.
The film reveals the hidden infrastructure of oil from the offshore rigs and the buried pipelines, to its flow through the stock markets of London. As the North Sea industry struggles to meet the need to cut carbon emissions, oil workers see their livelihoods under threat, and investors seek to protect their assets. Meanwhile, a younger generation of climate activists are catalysed by the signs of impending chaos and the threat of global sea level rises.
Black Black Oil explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly we can do it.”
First shown10pm 3 Nov 2021
Available for 8 months
“Produced by Sonja Henrici and directed by Emma Davie, it is billed as an exploration of whether the era of an “invisible machine powering the UK for decades” is over in the face of predictions about the impact of climate change and demands an urgent shift away from reliance on oil and gas.”
“This 1×60 film draws on voices of young activists, oil company executives, economists and pension fund managers to explore the vital questions that affect all our lives. This documentary looks at how the drama of global climate action is playing out in the fight over North Sea oil. It reveals the invisible infrastructure of oil from the offshore rigs and the buried pipelines to its flow through the stock markets of London and explores the complexity of the challenge as the North Sea industry struggles to meet the need to cut carbon emissions whilst oil workers see their livelihoods under threat and investors seek to protect their assets. Meanwhile a younger generation of climate activists are motivated by the signs of impending chaos, and the very real threat of global sea level rises. Black Black Oil explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly can we do it?”
PRESS / INDUSTRY
“powerful documentary – essential viewing” – Brian Ferguson – Scotsman
To know why COP26 is so important, Black Black Oil is prescribed viewing.
David Pollock The Courier
“A beautiful piece of work, hypnotic and mesmerising. I learned so much from this” –
Janice Forsyth BBC Radio Scotland 2.11.21
Lesley Riddoch – The Herald & The Lesley Riddoch Podcast 2.11.21
“A stunning and chilling audit of where we are now.”
Erlend Clouston – writer
Shereen BBC Radio Scotland 6.11.21
“Absolutely compelling programme”
“This is a programme that should be watched by everybody regardless of their age, their political persuasion because it presented alternate contrasting views the whole time and presented the whole picture. … you come at least away understanding the problem if not the solution. (Brian Beacom)
I found it fascinating, there were lots of things I hadn’t understood before, that it explained.
There’s things that we don’t think about – the physical networks in the north sea and the pipes and what that looks like, it did make you think about things that you hadn’t before. It’s difficult for a documentary to take on an issue like that and make it quite interesting because it doesn’t have a human element. I must admit I didn’t realise that oil was quite so involved in so many products that we use. I think I mostly thought of oil as in fuel and cars and transport… I didn’t realise how much of it was used in normal everyday items. It gets a bit overwhelming when you realise that actually your every single day needs to change dramatically… (Alison Heggarty)
“Utterly Essential Viewing” – David Pollock (The Courier)
Black Black Oil (BBC Scotland) was the perfect programme to produce in Scotland, not least because it deliberately took its name from John McGrath’s classic Scottish play. It also took its premise from a matter of local interest – the past, present and future of the North Sea oil fields – which expanded into a gripping tutorial on matters of national, international and species-wide significance.
Catastrophe counterbalanced by ingenuity
Through informed and informative talking heads, from young climate activists to figures within the fossil fuel industry, Emma Davie’s film was greatly revealing. The necessarily gloomy elements about potential climate catastrophe and the important counterbalance that humanity’s will and ingenuity still offer hope are by now familiar, of course.
Yet the sheer depth of explanation – from the role played by financial markets, to the real efficacy of certain techniques like carbon capture, to who really owns North Sea oil (mostly private equity firms and nations like China and Malaysia) – made for a calm, informative, eye-opening experience. To know why COP26 is so important, Black Black Oil is prescribed viewing.