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by Staff reporter
27 September 2023
Controversial Rosebank oil field approved

Several protests have been held in opposition to Rosebank development

Controversial Rosebank oil field approved

The controversial Rosebank oil field has been approved for development and production following a decision by regulators.

The field, situated in the North Sea off the coast of Shetland, has been the subject of a great number of climate protests.

A decision on whether it could be developed has been repeatedly delayed.

But it seemed likely to go ahead following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s intervention over summer that hundreds of new licences would be granted.

A spokesperson for the North Sea Transition Authority, the body which makes decisions on such developments, said: “We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan (FDP) which allows the owners to proceed with their project.

“The FDP is awarded in accordance with our published guidance and taking net zero considerations into account throughout the project’s lifecycle.”

The site will be developed by energy company Equinor. It is one of the largest undeveloped fields remaining in the North Sea and is predicted to produce over 300 million barrels.

It follows Sunak’s climate statement last week in which he confirmed the UK Government would continue to support the North Sea sector, as doing otherwise would “simply leave us reliant on expensive, imported energy from foreign dictators like Putin”.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “It’s great news that the regulator has given Rosebank the green light. The North Sea has a huge role to play in ensuring the UK’s energy security while we transition to net zero.

"It’s really important that we maximise our domestic oil and gas reserves, which mean lower emissions than imports, while reducing any reliance on hostile states. Rosebank will play a big role in that, as well as growing our economy and providing skilled jobs in Scotland for generations to come.” 

But climate campaign groups included Friends of the Earth have voiced opposition to the development. They say it would exceed the UK’s carbon budget “while doing nothing to bring down energy bills for people in the UK.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf previously said he was “not convinced” Rosebank should go ahead.

Responding to today’s announcement, Yousaf said: "I'm disappointed Rosebank has been given the go-ahead. We've raised concerns that the majority of what is extracted from Rosebank will go overseas, not remain in Scotland or the UK."

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie tweeted: “After abandoning wider climate policy last week, once again the UK Govt is wrecking our future.

“Hundreds of millions of tons of carbon emissions. No benefit to energy price or security. No just transition for workers. These people would literally burn your future for profit.”

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