Plans for a new oil field near Shetland in the North Sea have been tipped to play a "vital role" in boosting the UK's energy security as bills continue to soar for millions of Britons.
As the energy crisis continues to worsen as gas global fuel prices spiral out of control, the importance of boosting the UK’s homegrown supplies has been highlighted by many as a way out of the crisis. Now, plans have been lodged for the Rosebank field, which could produce around 70,000 barrels of oil a day at its peak, according to estimates. The site is also predicted to produce around 44 million cubic feet of gas per day in its first 10 years.
The field. is about 80 miles north west of Shetland in Scotland and could begin operating as early as 2026.
According to a study by Wood Mackenzie and Voar Energy, the site could account for as much as eight per cent of the UK’s oil production from 2026 to 2030.
The study has also estimated that the Rosebank field could generate a total economic impact of £24.1billion over the lifetime of the project.
Norway’s state-owned oil company, Equinor, says that along with its project partners it will invest £80million into the site, although a final investment decision is expected to be made in the first quarter of 2023.
Currently reliant on imports, Equinor, which acquired Rosefield in 2019., has argued that the UK only produced 57 percent of the oil volumes and 41 percent of the gas it needed in 2021.
And despite a push from campaigners to ditch fossil fuels as the impacts of the climate crisis get laid bare, the company has still argued that hydrocarbons have a “vital role” to play in the near future for the benefit of the UK’s energy security.
The company also claims it is still committed to net zero, despite a commitment to oil and gas in the coming years.
Arne Gürtner, senior vice president upstream in the UK and Ireland, said: “Equinor is committed to net zero by 2050 and is ready to invest to bring energy security while also transitioning to lower-carbon energy sources over the coming years.
“That said, for the next few decades oil and gas will continue to play a vital role alongside these low-carbon systems.
“Therefore, while we still need oil and gas, we aim to develop and operate projects such as Rosebank with the lowest possible carbon footprint while bringing the maximum value to society in the shape of UK investment, local jobs and energy security.”
But environmental campaigners are furious with the plans, warning it will be twice as big as the controversial Cambo oil field.
While new developments could slash reliance on imports, campaigners argue it is more appropriate to focus on turning attention to renewable power generation.
This is an alternative means to boosting domestic security, which could also slash Britain’s reliance on foreign gas and cut emissions in the process.
They also argue that the prices of oil and gas will not change, even if the fuel is not imported from abroad, as the market will remain global and integrated.
Uplift director Tessa Khan said: "Rosebank will mean a massive transfer of wealth from the British people to one of the richest petrostates in the world.
"Approving Rosebank would be a total betrayal of both the Government's climate goals and the British public, who face a severe recession while oil and gas companies make outrageous profits."
And despite claims that boosting domestic supplies will leave Britain less exposed to global supply shocks, Greenpeace has argued that the oil field will “do nothing” to shield Britons from the integrated energy markets.
Philip Evans, of Greenpeace UK, said: "If Rosebank goes ahead, it will do nothing to help drivers or households with rising costs, because the oil doesn't belong to the UK and goes to a global market.
"We will fight Rosebank every step of the way, and urge the Government to crack on with quick, cheap solutions that will actually help in the cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency - renewables, home insulation and heat pumps."
This comes as Britons have been warned that the energy price cap (maximum annual tariff) could jump to an eye-watering £4,700 by April next year.
This equates to £391 per month, and could push even more households into fuel poverty.
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