Regulator's decision

Rosebank oil field in North Sea gets go ahead

Ithaca Energy
Ithaca will partner Equinor to develop the Rosebank field

A controversial oil and gas field in the North Sea has given the go-ahead by the UK government regulator.

Oslo-listed energy company Equinor will develop Rosebank, which is one of the largest undeveloped oil and gas fields on the British continental shelf.

Equinor has a majority stake in Rosebank and expects it is expected to produce 300m barrels of oil over its lifetime in a partnership with Ithaca Energy.

The North Sea Transition Authority said: “We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project.”

Rosebank is north west of Shetland

Ithaca said Rosebank would underpin £8.1 billion ($9.84 billion) of direct investment in Britain, supporting up to 1,600 jobs during construction. First production is expected in 2026-27.

Environmental campaigners had called on the Conservative government to halt the development to the north-west of Shetland, arguing it contravenes Britain’s plan for a net-zero economy.

Last month 50 MPs and peers from all major parties wrote to then energy secretary Grant Shapps urging him to block Rosebank, arguing that it could produce 200m tonnes of carbon dioxide and that most of the cost of development would be shouldered by the taxpayer.

Climate campaigner oppose Rosebank’s development

The Scottish Greens’ climate spokesperson, Mark Ruskell MSP, said: “This is an utter catastrophe for our climate and the worst possible choice at the worst possible time. It shows a total contempt for our environment and for future generations.

“Last week Rishi Sunak took a match to his environmental commitments, now he’s taking a flamethrower to what remains of the UK’s environmental credibility. 

“In Scottish Climate Week of all weeks, and even as the first major storm of the year bears down upon us today, the Tories have shown a total disregard for our planet and mood of the nation.”

Former First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Outright opposition to Rosebank is daft. The UK would end up importing more dirtier hydrocarbons at greater cost and you cannot secure the so-called “just transition” by shutting down the North Sea.

“However, the field licence condition for Rosebank could and should have imposed a net zero carbon condition on this field, not as a general industry aspiration, but specifically for this hyper-lucrative field development.”

He said a further step to full field zero could have been achieved by forcing an Equinor commitment to the developing carbon capture network as a condition of approval.

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