Cambo licence extension – a “doomed oilfield on life support”, say campaigners

Environmental campaigners have criticised the decision to allow more time to develop the controversial Cambo oil field, west of Shetland.

Photo: Friends of the Earth Scotland

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.”

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.

8 replies »

  1. The CCC also said last month that UK production, particularly of gas, had a smaller carbon footprint than the international average.

    Interesting that FOES and DoD didn’t include that.

    Mind you, CCC also said last month:

    “There was a huge danger of global oversupply of oil and gas”!!!

    So, maybe some of their comments should be ignored?

    • I tend to turn my head from contradictory report Martin.

      It’s quite similar to XR, FOE and Greenpeace using and abusing fossil fuels products, while bashing an industry in which it promotes by driving, sitting on, wearing and travelling to destinations wear it protests in order to uphold peoples lives with futile agenda.

      Net Zero is a progression, a very expensive progression, one in which these ignorant protesters seem to want to accelerate through no knowledge of their own.

      What is the economic cost in real terms of achieving CNZ?

    • It appears to me that the CCC’s remarks refer to North Sea production, rather than onshore which DoD is concerned with

      The CCC say:

      there may be emissions advantages to UK production replacing imports. However, the extra gas and oil extracted will support a larger global market overall.

      They go onto say that an end to exploration

      would send a clear signal to investors and consumers that the UK is committed to the 1.5°C global temperature goal. That would also help the UK in its diplomatic efforts to strengthen climate ambition internationally.

      However they accept there are issues such as energy security which are outside their remit.

      CCC backs limits on UK oil and gas production and a presumption against future exploration

      Regarding the “huge danger of global oversupply of oil and gas”, you missed out the second part of the quote:

      “there was a risk that extraction would far exceed the amount of fossil fuels that could be burnt under climate commitments.

      This remark appears to be looking into the future when countries are committed to reducing CO2 emissions, and thus using less fossil fuels.

      • So, Paul, is this article not about Cambo??? If DoD is only concerned with on shore, why produce the article? If DoD is only concerned about UK on shore production, why produce any article, as UK on shore is not going to make any difference to UK impact upon climate change, and certainly not global climate change? Why the reports on Cop26, where UK on shore is insignificant?

        Reference your point regarding the second part, I would just point out since that remark just one month ago there is now the expectation that USA are about to release the largest release of oil from their strategic reserves to try and address the reality of imbalance between oil supply and demand for oil and what it is doing to price. Good for them, and good for their producers for trying to help those suffering the consequences of energy prices.

        I am sorry but if organizations put themselves forward as “experts” then they need to show expert and consistent competence. CCC do not appear too clever in this respect. They also need to read up on price elasticity. I recall a few years ago other “experts” were telling everyone to buy a diesel vehicle! Competence in that respect is like virginity and integrity, once it is gone it is gone, and to avoid that happening then care should be taken not to risk it. As far as I am concerned, it has gone, and everyone who is looking at their energy bills in April may be inclined to feel the same, even whilst watching those countries able to help out, like Canada, USA, Middle East , UK and others doing their bit.

        Theoretically, in UK there should be a coherent energy policy produced that will give real security and global competitiveness. I will not hold my breath though, as such have been trashed for decades in trying to placate various pressure groups all of whom have put forward their “experts”, who disappear when it all hits the fan.

  2. Interesting to see that not only is USA to release strategic reserves of oil to calm markets, but it is also to press for increased domestic production, with the intended release proposed as a bridge to that increased production. They are expecting other countries to take similar actions.

    Suspect Cambo will not be the last announcement.

  3. Posted on behalf of Patricia Kehela
    I strongly believe that all our local sources of energy should be utilised or be made readily available, so that we don’t become dependent on one type of fuel or on any dictatorships for our essential needs.

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