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Energy / Campaign calls on Equinor to halt Rosebank development

A ‘MESSAGE in a bottle’ has been sent from Shetland to neighbouring Norway calling on it to halt the proposed development of the controversial Rosebank oil field 80 miles off the isles’ coast.

A short film by the campaigners in Shetland – called Dear Norway – urges the country their “sibling across the sea”, to “do the right thing and leave the oil in the ground”.

Rosebank, which is the UK’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, would be operated by the Norwegian state-owned company Equinor.

The UK government is expected to make a decision on the field imminently.

The field to the northwest of Shetland, discovered in 2004, has been estimated to hold around 300 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Oil will be exported via a floating storage production and offloading vessel (FSPO) while gas will be fed into the West of Shetland pipeline system which connects to Sullom Voe Terminal.

The new film highlights the strong historical and cultural ties between the Shetland and Norway, but also the “uncomfortable truth that binds us together: fossil fuels.”

In the film, a boy from Shetland sends a message in a bottle to Norway about the environmental harm from the project and asks it to stop Rosebank. 

The Shetlanders urge Norway to “lead the transformation” away from oil and gas.

The project would also involve Equinor installing a pipeline through a protected area off the Shetland coast – the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt – potentially impacting its fragile ecosystem and affecting rare marine creatures, such as deep sea sponges and quahogs, an incredibly long-living type of clam.

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Alex Armitage, a Green councillor who features in Dear Norway, said: “We all know that climate breakdown is threatening our future, yet still we continue to burn fossil fuels. In this age of delusion, the world needs leadership on climate.

“As enlightened societies, the UK and Norway must take a stand and make the choice to leave our fossil fuels in the ground and lead the global energy transition.”

Laura Bisset, a young climate campaigner from Shetland who also features in the film, said: “Drilling at Rosebank is another step backwards in a race against the climate crisis which we are already losing.

“Now has to be the time to take action before it is too late. Our little Island is more than a vessel for oil, and it is important for others to know we are being affected by Rosebank and that we care about the impact.”

Equinor previously stated it “believes the field can be developed as part of the UK Government North Sea Transition deal, bringing much needed energy security and investment in the UK while supporting the UK’s net zero target”.

It added: “Equinor is committed to a fair and just transition. In the UK, the oil and gas industry supports over 270,000 jobs, but the oil and gas sector is in decline.

“Rosebank is expected to contribute high skilled jobs with over 1,600 jobs estimated to be directly employed in the development of the project at the height of the construction phase in Q2 2025.”

Shetland News meanwhile is hosting a climate change event at Islesburgh in Lerwick on Wednesday (25 January) at 7.30pm, where a panel with speakers due to explore how Shetland can reach net zero. Entrance is free.

There will also be a public workshop hosted by Friends of the Earth Scotland on Monday at Islesburgh from 6pm to give people the chance to learn about the importance of campaigning for a transition to renewable energy in a Shetland context.

People can reserve free spots on the workshop here.

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