The UK has given approval to one of its largest oil and gas projects in recent years, despite facing criticism from environmentalists. The decision to develop the North Sea Rosebank field was announced on the government’s official website on Wednesday.
The regulators have granted permission to Norwegian energy giant Equinor and Britain’s Ithaca Energy, who hold 80% and 20% stakes respectively in Rosebank. This oil field is considered the largest untapped reserve in the UK.
The approval to proceed with the project is intended to strengthen the country’s energy security. The decision followed thorough scrutiny by regulators, including concerns regarding its environmental impact. The press release stated that while the UK is increasing the use of clean energy sources such as offshore wind and nuclear power, it still relies on oil and gas, which will continue to be the case in the coming decades.
Equinor expects the Rosebank field to begin production in 2026-27 and produce approximately 300 million barrels of oil until 2051.
Despite the approval, plans to tap into the Rosebank field have faced opposition from the public, who raise doubts about its environmental impact. Campaigners have demanded that the development of the field be halted, arguing that it contradicts the country’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
In July, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed support for the project, stating that the UK needs new domestic sources of oil and gas to enhance its energy security. He also emphasized that removing oil and gas from the energy mix entirely by 2050 would be impossible. During that time, Sunak also announced plans to issue more new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea.
Energy Security Minister Claire Coutinho stated that the Rosebank project is expected to have lower emissions compared to older oil and gas developments, primarily due to the planned electrification of the extraction process. She emphasized that the UK will continue to support the oil and gas industry to ensure energy security, boost the economy, and facilitate the transition to cheaper and cleaner energy sources.
In conclusion, the UK has officially approved the development of the North Sea Rosebank field, one of the country’s largest untapped oil reserves. The decision has received criticism from environmentalists, but the government emphasizes the need to maintain energy security and recognizes the ongoing reliance on oil and gas. The project is expected to have a lower environmental impact due to planned electrification, and it aligns with the government’s strategy to transition to cleaner energy sources.