Environmental campaigners have criticised the decision to allow more time to develop the controversial Cambo oil field, west of Shetland.
Siccar Point Energy announced today that it had been granted a two-year licence extension from the industry regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).
Caroline Rance, climate campaigner of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the government was “trying to keep this doomed oil field on life support”. She said the extension merely “delayed the inevitable rejection of the field and the transition away from fossil fuels”.
The NSTA said it did not comment on individual licences. But in a statement, the company said:
“Siccar Point continues to work with its co-venturer Shell and the UK government to map out the next steps on Cambo.”
As expected in light of the energy crisis, and reductions in Russian fossil fuels, Shell and Siccar Point Energy have had their licences extended by a further two years for the Cambo gas and heavy oil field in the Atlantic Ocean, 90 nautical miles west of Unst… (More on SIBC).— SIBC (@SIBC_Shetland) March 30, 2022
Siccar’s partner, Shell, which withdrew from the project in December 2021, said today:
“At this time there is no change to our position of December 2021, but the extension to the licences will allow time to evaluate all potential future options for the project.”
The second phase of the Cambo licence, intended for appraisal and development, was due to expire tomorrow (31 March 2022).
Siccar Point asked for an extension and it is not unusual for licences to be extended. The decision does not mean that the Cambo field will get approval for drilling.
Caroline Rance said:
“Shell and Siccar Point Energy have had years to develop the case for opening the Cambo field, and have failed. Two more years won’t make the project look any better in terms of its devastating climate impacts or the urgency of the transition away from fossil fuels.
“New fields approved today wouldn’t start producing for years, and would do absolutely nothing for people’s soaring energy bills. Any oil that these companies might extract in years to come will be theirs to sell to the highest international bidder, not reserved for the UK. The suggestion that increasing UK oil and gas production will protect consumers is simply false.”
Last month, the Westminster government’s advisor, the Climate Change Committee, said increases in domestic production would have, at most, a marginal effect on UK energy prices. The CCC also said it would “support a tighter limit on production, with stringent tests and a presumption against exploration”.
Last year, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the Cambo oilfield “should not get the green light”.
Scottish Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have also opposed the development on climate grounds.
The field is thought to contain 800 million barrels of oil.