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An Equinor offshore oil drilling platform in the North Sea on Monday, February 13, 2023. The UK government has given the green light to Equinor to develop a huge oil and gas field near Shetland in Scotland.
The British government on Wednesday approved the development of a huge oil and gas field in the North Sea, sealing its commitment to continue producing fossil fuels for decades to come.
The Rosebank field, located northwest of Shetland in Scotland and majority owned by the Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor, is the largest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea, with potential to produce 500 million barrels of oil. Has the capacity.
Its development has drawn sharp criticism for its impacts on the climate crisis and its ability to meet Britain’s pledge to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
“We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project,” a spokesperson for oil and gas regulator North Sea Transition Authority said in a statement.
The spokesperson said the decision was made “keeping in mind net zero considerations throughout the lifecycle of the project”. Net zero is where the world removes at least as much planet-warming pollution as it emits.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently said he wanted to “maximize” oil and gas development in the North Sea and issue hundreds of new licenses. Sunak has argued that these reserves will give the UK energy security and help reduce bills.
“Even when we reach net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will still be met by oil and gas. But there are also those who would like it to come from hostile states rather than supplies available to us at home,” Sunak said in a statement in July.
But critics argue that Britain exports 80% of its oil.
“Rosebank will do nothing to reduce fuel bills or boost the UK’s energy security. Most of this oil will be shipped overseas and then sold back to us at a price that benefits the oil and gas industry the most,” said Tessa Khan, executive director of UK campaign organization Uplift and a climate advocate.
Climate groups also say that continuing to produce new fossil fuels for decades into the future threatens Britain’s climate commitments.
The International Energy Agency said in 2021 that there could be no new oil and gas fields if the world wanted to have a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Lindsay Walsh, climate change policy adviser at Oxfam, said Rosebank has locked Britain “into fossil fuel dependence and rising emissions as record-breaking heat waves, floods and wildfires destroy lives.”
An analysis by Uplift found that planet-heating pollution generated by Rosebank would be enough to push the UK beyond its climate targets by 2028.
Claire Coutinho, Britain’s energy security and net zero minister, said Rosebank would bring jobs and enable Britain to reduce its reliance on oil and gas imports.
“We are world leaders in reducing carbon emissions, but as much as we are ambitious, we must also be practical,” he Posted Wednesdays on X (formerly Twitter).
Rosebank is almost twice the size of the controversial Cambo oil field in the North Sea, which was to be developed until Shell pulled out of the project in 2021, citing economic reasons.
Uplift has said it will launch legal action against the government to challenge Rosebank’s decision.
approval comes Now! The announcement comes a week after Sunak delayed key climate commitments, including rolling back a ban on the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered cars and slowing plans to phase out gas boilers. Climate experts say that these decisions will also It has been made more difficult for the UK to meet its net zero commitments.