05 January 2023

UK Government urged to reject ‘climate-wrecking’ Rosebank oil field plans

05 January 2023

UK Government ministers have been urged to halt “climate-wrecking” development plans for a new oil field in the North Sea.

Rosebank, located north-west of Shetland, is thought to be twice the size of the controversial Cambo development, and could produce almost 70,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak.

Norwegian state-controlled company Equinor has submitted proposals to Westminster to begin production.

Industry experts previously said the plans would boost energy security and the Scottish economy.

But the Scottish Greens have joined environmental groups in calling for the plans to be rejected, arguing it could hinder efforts to meet net-zero targets.

The climate vandalism has gone on long enough. This must be the year when Rishi Sunak and his colleagues do the right thing for people and planet

Mark Ruskell, the party’s energy and environment spokesman, said: “Rosebank is a climate disaster waiting to happen.

“We are already past the point when we should have been moving away from oil and gas, yet Westminster is doubling down on it.

“2023 is a key year for our recovery and for our planet, and we cannot squander it. It must be a year of transition and change.

“Yet, with over 100 new climate-wrecking oil and gas exploration licences in the pipeline, and even a new coal mine in Cumbria, the UK Government has been utterly unwilling to take the climate action that is so badly needed.

“Renewable energy is the cheapest and cleanest energy available. But we cannot realise our renewable potential as long as we are tied to a Tory Government that is more concerned with the profits of its friends in the fossil fuel industry than it is with our environment.

“The climate vandalism has gone on long enough. This must be the year when (Prime Minister) Rishi Sunak and his colleagues do the right thing for people and planet.”

Rosebank is the biggest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea, with nearly 500 million barrels – a claim disputed by Equinor which says the recoverable reserves estimate 300 million.

Equinor has said a final investment decision could be made in 2023, with the first oil expected in late 2026.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was urged to oppose the controversial proposals by campaigners during the UN Cop27 climate talks last year.

The Scottish Government does not have the powers to deny permission for development of oil fields.

But outcry from critics including the First Minister caused the Cambo development to be paused in 2021.

A spokesperson for Equinor said: “Equinor is committed to net zero by 2050. Here in the UK we are building the world’s largest wind farm, Dogger Bank, and are planning some of the largest hydrogen and CCS projects in the world.

“Still, demand for oil and gas is not going away in the short term. The UK is a net importer of oil and gas. While we still need oil and gas, we aim to develop and operate projects such as Rosebank with the lowest possible carbon footprint while bringing the maximum value to society in the shape of UK investment, local jobs and energy security.”

Mike Tholen, sustainability director of Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), said the industry is committed to the transition to net zero but said gas and oil were essential to power the nation until then.

He said: “New developments like Rosebank are replacing older and higher emission intensity resources that are decommissioning rapidly. It would become part of the network of oil and gas fields in the North Sea that will help keep our nation supplied with energy while we build a greener future.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is leading the world on climate change and our British Energy Security Strategy sets out our plan to supercharge our domestic renewable energy and nuclear capacity, as well as supporting our North Sea oil and gas industry as we transition to lower carbon energy.

“No decision has yet been made regarding the proposed Rosebank field and development proposals for oil fields under existing licences are a matter for the regulators.”

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