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LONDON — The United Kingdom has given the green light to Rosebank, the country’s largest untapped oil field, amid growing scrutiny of the country’s climate performance.
A spokesperson for the oil and gas regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, said on Wednesday: “We have today approved the development plan for the Rosebank field which allows the owners to proceed with their project.
“The FDP is awarded in accordance with our published guidelines and taking into account net zero emissions considerations throughout the project lifecycle.”
The UK government has continually relied on fossil fuels as a key part of its energy strategy and pledged earlier this year to maximize its reserves by granting hundreds of new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea.
“We are investing in our cutting-edge renewable energy, but, as the Independent Committee on Climate Change recognizes, we will need oil and gas in that mix on the path to carbon neutrality and so it makes sense to use our own supplies from the North. Maritime fields such as Rosebank,” Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho said on Wednesday.
The news also comes less than a week after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed he would water down a series of key net-zero emissions policies, including delaying a ban on the phasing out of low-engine cars. combustion from 2030 to 2035.
The party has drawn a clear line with the opposition Labor Party – which has pledged to ban all oil and gas developments, but not revoke existing licenses – ahead of the next general election.
Approval was granted to field owners Equinor and Ithaca Energy, following acceptance of their environmental declaration. Equinor has estimated that the Rosebank field will be capable of producing 69,000 barrels of oil and 44 million cubic feet of gas per day at its peak.
“Rosebank is a huge untapped resource and this investment will now inject billions of pounds into our economy to help secure our future energy supply,” Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday.
Climate groups, who have urged the government not to support the development of the deposit, quickly condemned the decision on Wednesday.
“There is strong reason to believe that the way this government has made this decision is illegal and we will see them in court if that is the case,” said Tessa Khan, a climate lawyer and executive director of the campaign group Uplift. “We shouldn’t have to fight this government for cheap, clean energy and a livable climate, but we will. »
Caroline Lucas, Westminster’s only Green MP, described the decision as “morally obscene”.