Controversial huge new oil and gas field Rosebank given green light by regulator

Plans for the Rosebank field have been approved (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Plans for the Rosebank field have been approved (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

A controversial huge new oil and gas field was given the green light on Wednesday.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) said development and production consent has been granted for Rosebank, which lies off the coast of Scotland.

It follows the acceptance of the Environmental Statement by Equinor and Ithaca Energy, the Norwegian firm behind the project.

Environmental campaigners including Greta Thunberg had voiced strong opposition to the development.

The Rosebank field, which lies north-west of Shetland and contains up to 350 million barrels of oil, is currently one of the largest untapped discoveries in UK waters.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the decision was “morally obscene” and an “act of environmental vandalism”.

She added: “It won’t improve energy security or lower bills - but it will shatter our climate commitments and demolish global leadership.”

But Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho said the development would make Britain less reliant on foreign energy.

She said: “We will not play politics with our energy security. Even the independent Climate Change Committee has said that in 2050, we will need oil and gas for a quarter of our energy.

“The choice we face is this: do we shut down our own oil and gas leaving us reliant on foreign regimes? Do we lose 200,000 jobs across the UK? Do we import fuel with much higher carbon footprints instead? And lose billions in tax revenue?”

An NSTA spokesperson said: “We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project.

“The FDP is awarded in accordance with our published guidance and taking net zero considerations into account throughout the project’s lifecycle.”

Rosebank could produce 69,000 barrels of oil per day – about 8% of the UK’s projected daily output between 2026 and 2030 – and could also produce 44 million cubic feet of gas every day, according to Equinor.