The United Kingdom has approved the development of Rosebank, the largest oil field in the country that has not yet been tapped. This decision comes as the country faces growing criticism for its actions towards addressing climate change.
On Wednesday, a representative for the North Sea Transition Authority, which oversees the oil and gas industry, announced that the Rosebank Field Development Plan has been given approval. This approval allows the owners to move forward with their project.
“The FDP is given based on our published instructions, while also considering net zero implications throughout the project’s lifespan.”
The United Kingdom’s government has consistently relied on fossil fuels as a crucial element of its energy plan. Earlier this year, it promised to fully utilize reserves by granting hundreds of additional licenses for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
On Wednesday, Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho stated that while we are focusing on developing our top renewable energy sources, the independent Climate Change Committee has acknowledged the need for oil and gas in our journey towards achieving net zero emissions. Therefore, it is logical to utilize our own resources from North Sea fields like Rosebank.
The recent announcement follows shortly after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s confirmation that several important policies towards achieving net zero emissions will be weakened, such as pushing back the ban on phasing out combustion-engine cars from 2030 to 2035.
The party has established a distinct boundary from the opposition Labour Party in light of the upcoming general election. The Labour Party has promised to prohibit all oil and gas projects, but will not cancel current licenses.
Equinor and Ithaca Energy, the owners of the field, have been granted approval after their environmental statement was accepted. Equinor predicts that the Rosebank field will have a peak production of 69,000 barrels of oil and 44 million cubic feet of gas per day.
According to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday, the investment in Rosebank will greatly benefit our economy by bringing in billions of pounds and securing our future energy supply. This resource has been largely unused until now.
Environmental advocacy organizations, who have been urging the government to reject the development of the field, swiftly criticized the decision on Wednesday.
Tessa Khan, an executive director at Uplift and climate lawyer, expressed concerns about the government’s decision, stating that there is a possibility it was made unlawfully. She added that if this is the case, legal action will be taken. Khan also emphasized the importance of affordable and environmentally-friendly energy options, and the fight for a sustainable future despite the government’s opposition.
Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP in Westminster, condemned the decision as “morally repugnant.”