Britain approves drilling of Rosebank field in North Sea

Isbel Lázaro.
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Inspenet, September 28, 2023.

Last Wednesday, Britain gave the green light to an oil and gas project in the North Sea, dismissing warnings from the scientific community and the United Nations about the need to halt the development of new fossil fuel resources to avoid disaster. climate.

The North Sea Transition Authority approved the development of the Rosebank field, allowing Equinor and Ithaca Energy to continue with the project, located approximately 130 km northwest of the Shetland Islands. This entity is a British regulator charged with maximizing the economic benefits of North Sea energy resources and helping the country meet its carbon emissions reduction goals.

The decision has generated controversy

The decision comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government faces criticism for reducing its environmental commitments ahead of the next election. Sunak has delayed a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles until 2035 and proposed relaxing water quality standards for developers because of the unpopularity of costly environmental programs among some voters. However, the government insists on its commitment to achieving the goal of reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

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It also argues that projects like Rosebank are necessary to boost oil and gas production in the country, control costs for consumers and ensure “energy security” during the transition to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

It is important to remember that in July, Sunak announced plans to award hundreds of new oil and gas licenses in order to preserve jobs and increase Britain’s energy independence, as production in the aging North Sea oil fields has been decreasing.

About the North Sea fields

Over the past 25 years, production from Britain’s North Sea fields has fallen steadily, reaching around 1.3 million barrels per day in May, a 75% reduction from the peak reached. in December 1996. Rosebank, one of the largest untapped deposits in UK waters, contains around 500 million barrels of recoverable oil , according to Equinor.

Rosebank is about twice the size of the controversial Cambo oil field in the North Sea, which was under development until Shell pulled out of the project in 2021, citing economic reasons.

For its part, the Norwegian company Equinor, which owns 80% of Rosebank, announced that the two partners plan to invest $3.8 billion in the project, which will support approximately 1,600 jobs at the peak of construction. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin production in 2026-2027.

The government maintains that Rosebank and other new projects will generate “far fewer emissions than previous developments”.

“Continuing production in the North Sea is important to maintain domestic security of supply and make the UK less vulnerable to a repeat of the energy crisis that saw prices soar after the illegal invasion of Ukraine. by Russia,” the government said.


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