Licence Extended for “Doomed” Cambo Oil Field

By Katy Mcdougall

1st April 2022

An extension granted this week to the Cambo oil field licence has sparked backlash from environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth (FotE).

The North Sea Transition Authority granted the two-year extension on the Cambo licence following a request by Shell and Siccar Point Energy. 

While the extension has been approved, it does not grant permission for drilling and there is currently no development plan in place. Campaigners feel this makes the field essentially redundant and will only delay the transition away from fossil fuels.

Scottish Greens Energy and Climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell said:

“The fact is most crude oil extracted from this site would be exported, so it would have little impact on energy security and be a massive blow to the transition away from fossil fuels. If we are going to tackle Putin’s power and the impact rising energy bills are having on the cost of living, we need to reduce our reliance on oil and gas and invest in renewable energy.”

Shell, in a statement, said:

“At this time there is no change to our position of December 2021 (the oil giant backed away from the project, citing ‘potential’) , but the extension to the licences will allow time to evaluate all potential future options for the project.”

(Friends of the Earth and Stop Cambo activists protesting the oil field at COP26. Photograph: Friends of the Earth Scotland / Colin Hattersley)

There is a feeling among campaigners that increasing oil and gas production in the UK would have no effect on the current soaring energy bills the country is facing, while oil production in these new fields would also take years to yield any results.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate and Energy Campaigner Caroline Rance said: 

“New fields approved today wouldn’t start producing for years and would do absolutely nothing for people’s soaring energy bills. Any oil that these companies might extract in years to come will be theirs to sell to the highest international bidder, not reserved for the UK. The suggestion that increasing UK oil and gas production will protect consumers is simply false.”

There has been substantial cross-party agreement on this issue, with the Greens, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP Government all previously speaking out against the Cambo project due to its devastating climate impact. A further 90,000 people wrote to Boris Johnson telling him to reject the project and were globally criticised at COP26 in November.

Shell declared £14.5 billion in profits for 2021 the same day as OFGEM increased the energy price cap by 54% in February, Ruskell said:

“Opening the Cambo oil field makes even less sense today than it did last year. Shell would be basing this decision on maximising its already eye-watering profits, it certainly wouldn’t help with soaring energy bills or our energy security.”

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