LONDON – Britain’s government could approve development plans for six oil and gas fields in the North Sea area, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The national newspaper’s list of projects is headed by the Equinor-operated Rosebank west of Shetland, which if confirmed would be the UK’s deepest water development to date. Four others in the central North Sea are Shell’s HP/HT Jackdaw gas field project (last year the Oil and Gas Authority vetoed Shell’s request for a tieback to its Shearwater complex); Anasuria Hibiscus’ Marigold cluster; further development of the Harbour Energy-operated Catcher Area; and Brodick. Finally, Harbour’s Tolmount East gas development – production has yet to start at the host Tolmount field facilities.
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has asked Business Secretary to fast-track the approval process, the Telegraph added, due to growing concerns over the economic impact of moving too quickly on net-zero emissions targets, with Europe-wide gas shortages causing prices of gas to increase for domestic UK consumers.
Combined gas reserves associated with the six projects would cover the UK’s entire power needs over six months, the report claimed.
Only one minor project in UK waters – the Evelyn/Gannet tiebacks to the Triton FPSO – secured approval last year, and there have been growing calls from opposition parties for the government to impose a windfall tax on offshore oil and gas companies – reinforced by bp’s announcement today of full-year profits totalling $7.565 billion (its reduction of its net debt to $30.6 billion at year-end was not mentioned by politicians).
Last year, Shell paused investment in the Cambo oil and gas project west of Shetland, which was also expected to proceed, following persistent pressure from environmental groups and Scotland’s own government.
If the new developments do go ahead, and the current energy crisis persists, more project approvals could follow over the next few years. The Telegraph quoted a government source as warning that calls to end UK oil and gas production altogether would only lead to Britain importing more from other countries with “dubious records,” at the same time destroying 200,000 jobs within the industry.