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Spain passes climate bill banning new oil, gas exploration

Highlights

Deadline for existing upstream blocks set for 2042

Follows similar moves by Denmark, France, Ireland

New climate law also bans fracking

London — Spain has become the latest European country to set a date for a ban on oil and gas exploration as part of the country's climate change and energy transition bill.

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Spain's Congress on May 13 approved the bill which outlines its decarbonization objectives through to 2050 and approved a Eur1.7 billion ($2.06 billion) investment plan to promote own-consumption and behind-the-meter battery systems, among others. The bill also aims to boost the share of renewable energy in its power generation mix to 74% by 2030.

The bill had already passed Spain's lower house in early April after almost a year of debate.

Under the bill, Spain will no longer issue new concessions for exploring or producing fossil fuels and existing concessions cannot be extended beyond Dec. 31, 2042. The bill also bans fracking and requires all public institutions to divest any holdings in companies involved in the production, refining, and processing of fossil fuels.

Spain's main remaining producing assets are in the Mediterranean Sea, some 45 km off the coast of Tarragona.

Spain's Repsol operates the Lubina and Montanazo oil fields in the area which have a net production of 1,320 b/d of oil equivalent, according to the company.

The fields are produced from the aging Casablanca field production platform which saw production peak in the mid-1980s.

Spain's move to ban new exploration awards follows a December move by Denmark to ban new exploration and end its oil and gas production from the North Sea by 2050 as part of the country's efforts to become "climate neutral" in the coming decades.

France in 2017 agreed to phase out fossil fuel production by 2040, and halt the granting of new exploration permits. Ireland banned new onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration in February 2018.