Green scrutiny delays Siccar Point’s Cambo work offshore UK

Elena Mazneva and Laura Hurst 8/24/2021

LONDON (Bloomberg) --Siccar Point Energy Ltd. is delaying work on its Cambo oil field in the UK North Sea, a target of vociferous criticism by environmental activists.

Siccar Point said that some preparatory work that was due to commence shortly is now being pushed back into 2022. The installation of so-called conductor anchor nodes, which needs to be carried out before well construction, was delayed due to the closing window of favorable weather in the West of Shetland region, the company said.

The project, full development of which is not expected to begin until next year, has sparked a fierce debate involving campaign groups like Greenpeace, the oil industry and the UK government. Activists argue that tapping the field’s estimated 170 million barrels of reserves is inconsistent with the country’s policy of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Read more: Scotland’s First Minister calls on UK to “reconsider” oil and gas permits

Earlier on Tuesday, Greenpeace criticized Siccar Point for planning to do the work before receiving a full development permit for the project -- something it’s urging the UK government to refuse. Two activists in kayaks staged a protest near a Siccar-contracted ship involved in the project that was berthed in Stavanger, Norway on Monday, Greenpeace said in a statement.

Siccar Point said that its contractor has regulatory consent for the installation of the conductor anchor nodes, which is separate to the approvals needed for the full field development.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which holds a non-operated stake in the field, declined to comment. When asked about the development last month, its Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said that “as long as the UK still needs oil and gas in its consumption for its society, it’s better to produce it in its own backyard.”

Net Zero

Scrutiny of the Cambo development has intensified over recent months amid a string of climate announcements from the UK government before key United Nations climate talks in Glasgow. A North Sea transition strategy set out earlier this year was criticized by activists after it fell short of banning new oil and gas exploration licenses.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon weighed into the debate in a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which she asked the government to reassess oil and gas fields that have been licensed but not yet developed, singling out the Cambo development as an example.

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In response, the government’s Minister for Scotland David Duguid met with Siccar Point.

“Whilst our reliance and demand for fossil fuels continues to fall, we cannot have a cliff-edge where oil and gas are abandoned overnight as they have a role to play in our electricity supply, in providing local jobs, and in supporting the production of everyday essentials like medicines,” he said in a statement last week.

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