Development plans have been announced for an oil field that could produce nearly 70,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak.
Equinor, controlled by the Norwegian state, said it wanted to carry out projects such as the Rosebank field – located in the northwest of Shetlands – with “the lowest possible carbon footprint”.
Industrial body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said it would benefit the UK’s energy security and the Scottish economy, but environmental activists say it would be a “total betrayal” of climate targets if the UK government approved. the project.
Uplift, which campaigns for a fossil-free UK, said the Rosebank field would double the controversial Cambo development.
He also said investing in the field would reduce the amount Equinor has to pay under the government’s unexpected tax on energy companies.
Equinor said a final investment decision on Rosebank could be made in 2023, with the next steps for the project, including obtaining the necessary consents.
But Uplift Director Tessa Khan said: “Rosebank will mean a massive transfer of wealth from the British people to one of the richest petrostates in the world.
The development of Rosebank will benefit the energy security of the UK and the entire Scottish economy
Deirdre Michie, managing director of OEUK
“Rosebank’s approval would be a total betrayal of both the government’s climate targets and the British public facing a severe recession as oil and gas companies make outrageous profits.”
Equinor, however, said research shows that Rosebank could generate £ 24.1 billion in gross value added (GVA) over its lifetime.
He added that if production starts in 2026, then by 2030 the field could account for 8% of total UK oil production, while natural gas from the site could be the equivalent of the average daily use of one. city the size of Aberdeen.
Rosebank at its peak could produce 69,000 barrels of oil per day, OEUK said, along with about 44 million cubic feet of gas per day in its first 10 years.
Equinor Senior Vice President Arne Gurtner stressed that the company is “committed to net zero by 2050 and is ready to invest to bring energy security, including moving to low-carbon energy sources in the next few years. years”.
He added: “Here in the UK we are building the largest wind farm in the world, Dogger Bank, and we are planning some of the largest hydrogen and CCS projects in the world.
“That said, oil and gas will continue to play a pivotal role alongside these low-carbon systems for the next few decades.
“Therefore, while we still need oil and gas, we aim to develop and operate projects like Rosebank with the lowest possible carbon footprint, bringing maximum value to society in the form of UK investments, local jobs and security. energy “.
Deirdre Michie, managing director of OEUK, said: “The development of Rosebank will benefit the energy security of the UK and the entire Scottish economy.
“In human terms it will generate many hundreds of jobs, support training and stimulate the development of the regional supply chain.
“The people employed in this project will also develop engineering and other skills essential to the expansion of offshore wind and other low-carbon energy.”
But Philip Evans of Greenpeace UK said: “This is what happens when the government helps oil companies with convenient tax breaks.
“If Rosebank goes ahead, it will do nothing to help drivers or families with rising costs, because oil does not belong to the UK and goes to a global market.”
With Greenpeace already filing a legal challenge over Jackdaw’s planned development in the North Sea, Evans said: “We will fight Rosebank every step of the way and urge the government to move forward with quick and cost-effective solutions that will actually help in the cost crisis. life and climate emergency: renewables, domestic insulation and heat pumps “.
Mark Ruskell, Green’s Scottish MSP, said it was “the height of irresponsibility to develop new oil and gas fields in the face of the climate emergency”.
He added: “Scotland has enormous renewable energy potential. The UK government’s inability to invest in this, and instead of doubling down on oil and gas, is a sad testament to its priorities which focus on short-term profits over the well-being of future generations. “