Decision on Rosebank, Britain's Largest Oil and Gas Field, Reportedly Delayed
Posted 12/07/2023 13:34
Regulators and ministers are expected to postpone the decision on whether to approve the development of the Rosebank oil and gas field, the largest undeveloped field in British waters, until later this year. Originally, the decision was anticipated before Parliament's summer recess, but it is now unlikely. The project, led by Equinor, requires approval from the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), the North Sea Transition Authority, and the Energy Minister. The approval process is projected to extend until at least August.
OPRED had already delayed its decision once, requesting a more detailed analysis of the field's environmental impact. Environmental groups see this delay as an opportunity to challenge the project, arguing that approving a large oil field like Rosebank contradicts the UK's climate obligations. They believe that the emissions resulting from the field would surpass the country's North Sea emissions targets and hinder progress towards the net-zero target.
The government's backing of Rosebank is based on arguments for energy security and reducing reliance on oil and gas imports. However, critics, including the Climate Change Committee, dismiss these arguments as inadequate. They highlight that it takes years for new fields to begin production, and the international oil and gas markets dictate pricing and exports. Improving energy efficiency is seen as a more effective and affordable means of reducing energy bills.
While Rosebank may have slightly lower emissions compared to imported oil and gas, analysts caution that the UK's ability to meet its energy needs from its own North Sea fields is limited. The potential lifetime emissions from Rosebank would exceed the combined annual emissions of all low-income countries worldwide. Equinor's proposal to extract over 300 million barrels of oil from Rosebank, starting in 2026, has raised concerns about the project's impact on global emissions.
The decision on Rosebank will have significant implications for the UK's energy strategy and its commitment to climate targets.