After months of equivocation, Scotland’s First Minister this week confirmed her opposition to drilling the vast Cambo oil field, but stressed the final decision rests with Whitehall and regulator the Oil and Gas Authority.
Briefing the Holyrood parliament on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs “I don’t think we can go on extracting new oil and gas forever. That is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery.
“And I don’t think we can go and continue to give the go-ahead to new oil fields. So I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light.”
Containing 800 million barrels of oil drillable for as much as 25 years, Cambo lies 75 miles west of Shetland in waters over a kilometre deep. An exploration licence was granted as long ago as 2001; if the OGA grants an extraction licence, drilling could start as early as next year, according to reports.
With her call over the summer for Whitehall to “reassess” Cambo, Sturgeon told MSPs that she had “set out a process by which a different decision could be arrived at”.
The SNP leader added: “I have set out a proposal for a climate assessment and I think the presumption would be that Cambo couldn’t and shouldn’t pass any rigorous climate assessment.”
Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour, along with Scottish Greens, Sturgeon’s partners in government, have all called since August for the scheme to be canned.
Operator Siccar Point Energy controls 70% of Cambo. It sold 30% to Royal Dutch Shell in May 2018.
Yesterday the soon-to-be-abbreviated Shell bought into a cleaner Celtic-influenced ocean venture, when it acquired 51% control of the Western Star floating wind farm, proposed for operation a minimum of 35 kilometres off the County Clare coast.
Split over two phases, the 1.35GW project will be the oil supermajor’s second collaboration with Irish developer Simply Blue Energy in floating turbine technology. Earlier this year the pair signed up to develop the 1.3GW Emerald floating farm in the Celtic Sea south of the republic.
Hessel de Jong, Shell’s offshore wind general manager for Europe said: “Shell has a clear ambition to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. We aim to provide more renewable power to consumers and businesses alike.
“Working alongside coastal communities to create shared value is key to success for both the Western Star floating wind project and the previously announced Emerald project, which is why we have chosen to work with Simply Blue Group”.