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Energy / Any delay to Rosebank decision is welcome, campaigners say

Rosebank is situated to the west of Shetland.

A REPORTED delay on the decision whether to approve production from the Rosebank oil and gas field is a “big victory for climate campaigners”.

That is the view of local activist Alex Armitage in response to reports that a decision on the field may now only be expected in August at the earliest.

However a spokesperson for field operator Equinor is reported as saying there is “no foundation” to suggestions that regulators have concerns over Rosebank’s possible electrification.

Over recent months Rosebank, located to the west of Shetland, has been become the focal point for environmental campaigners demanding that alternative forms of energy production should be pursued.

Rosebank the largest undeveloped oil field in the North Sea region with the potential to produce hundreds of million barrels of oil over its lifetime.

Those in favour say oil is needed during the transition to net zero.

One option for Rosebank is to power the operation of the production facilities with renewable energy rather than by burning gas.

Shetland South councillor Alex Armitage.

Speaking after reports that a decision on Rosebank by the government’s North Sea Transition Authority is not expected before parliament’s upcoming summer recess, Armitage said he felt the development would not meet legally binding climate commitments.

“I believe any decision by the UK Government to issue a permit to Equinor would be unlawful,” he added.

“If we are going to limit global heating to 1.5°C, science tells us we have to keep most of our known reserves of oil and gas in the ground. That includes fields like Rosebank and Cambo.”

Armitage, who is a councillor representing the Scottish Greens, said any postponement means that “we have more chance of ultimately keeping Rosebank’s oil in the ground”.

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“If we succeed in this objective, it will be a huge political statement of ambition that we as a country are willing to take the climate seriously”, he added.

“It will also lay down the gauntlet to bigger countries like China, India and the USA to decarbonise their economies.”

Armitage also highlighted that Equinor, which is Norwegian state-owned, is not planning piping any oil from Rosebank to Shetland.

“Flaring regulations mean that Rosebank’s gas must be piped ashore – this pipeline will be laid through the Shetland-Faroe sponge belt to the Shetland gas plant at a high ecological and economic cost, only made viable by a £3.75bn tax break offered by the UK government,” he added.

“Rosebank’s gas is not a significant volume in terms of benefit to Shetland.”

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