Gas project approved

Shell’s Jackdaw field in North Sea to go ahead

Shell says the field will heat 1.4m homes

Shell’s Jackdaw gas field in the UK North Sea is to go ahead, sparking an immediate backlash from climate campaigners.

The company received final regulatory approval for the field which is expected to deliver 6.5% of all gas production from the UK continental shelf.

Shell said it will provide enough energy to heat 1.4 million homes. At the same time, it will account for less than 1% of emissions from the production area.

The decision comes as the government tries to boost domestic energy output in an effort to shield the UK from the market volatility caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the decision to approve the field which lies 250 kilometres east of Aberdeen.

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“We’re turbocharging renewables and nuclear, but we are also realistic about our energy needs now,” he said on Twitter. “Let’s source more of the gas we need from British waters to protect energy security.”

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace replied: “This is desperate and destructive, @KwasiKwarteng. You’re not turbocharging renewables, you’re turbocharging the climate crisis. The answer is not new oil and gas fields, it’s reducing energy waste at home.”

A Shell spokesperson said: “Responsibly produced, local gas production plays an essential role in the UK’s transition to net zero, will support thousands of jobs, and forms part of Shell UK’s broader intent to invest £20bn to £25bn in the UK, with 75% intended for low and zero-carbon products and services.

“However, as we have repeatedly stated, this can only happen with a stable fiscal policy and we continue to look to the government for those assurances.”

Plans for the gas field were initially rejected in October last year on environmental grounds, but Shell submitted an updated proposal to the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning in March.

The new plan changes the way natural gas will be processed at the Shearwater hub, to which the Jackdaw field will be connected: rather than removing all naturally-occurring CO2 from the gas offshore, some of it will be taken to the St Fergus terminal, where it will be treated onshore.

It is thought that the gas field has reserves of between 120 million and 250 million barrels of oil equivalent, and Shell plans to start production in the second half of 2025.

Greenpeace, however, said it believes the permit approval could be unlawful and will consider legal action.

Ami McCarthy, political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Approving Jackdaw is a desperate and destructive decision from Johnson’s government, and proves there’s no long-term plan.”

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