Developer pauses work on Cambo oilfield


Work on the controversial Cambo oilfield is being paused, the company behind the project has said.

It follows a decision last week by Shell to pull out of the proposed development off Shetland.

Siccar Point Energy’s chief executive Jonathan Roger said his company will now “evaluate next steps”.

He said: “Following Shell’s announcement last week, we are in a position where the Cambo project cannot progress on the originally planned timescale.

Cambo protest
Activists from Friends of the Earth during a demonstration against Cambo in Glasgow last month (Jane Barlow/PA)

“We are pausing the development while we evaluate next steps.

“We continue to believe Cambo is a robust project that can play an important part of the UK’s energy security, providing homegrown energy supply and reducing carbon intensive imports, whilst supporting a just transition.”

Environmental groups have long opposed the proposed field.

They warned it would jeopardise hundreds of species in the ocean and have threatened the UK Government with legal action.

Sam Chetan-Welsh, political campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “The economics of the Cambo oilfield were looking decidedly shaky, and the climate maths never did make sense.

“Both the Westminster and Scottish Government now need to end support for new oil and gas infrastructure.

“They should urgently deliver a just transition to clean energy, providing the money, policy and training to ensure the communities who have relied on the oil industry can move to the green jobs of the future.”

Last week Shell, which had a 30% stake in the development, said it had “concluded the economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough at this time, as well as having the potential for delays”.

In November, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the project should not go ahead.

(PA Graphics)

It followed months of pressure from opposition parties and campaigners for the Scottish Government to make its position on Cambo clear.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK previously said blocking long-planned energy projects like Cambo would risk leaving the UK at the mercy of global energy shortages.

The Scottish Conservatives said Siccar Point Energy’s decision is “extremely concerning” for the oil and gas industry.

The party’s shadow secretary for net-zero Liam Kerr said: “The hostile SNP-Green stance on projects like Cambo is making it less attractive for energy companies to invest in Scottish oil and gas.

“It’s clear the shameful, ignorant, anti-business views of this coalition are now not only jeopardising our ability to meet net-zero targets but also abandoning thousands of jobs in the sector.

“Without investment in these projects, we risk becoming even more dependent on foreign imports rather than making use of Scotland’s domestic reserves of oil and gas.

“We warned bringing the extremist Greens into Government would damage Scotland’s economy and the effects of this are now being seen.”

Scottish Greens climate spokesman, Mark Ruskell, said Cambo is now “looking increasingly unlikely”.

He added: “The path to net zero lies not in vast amounts of continued subsidy for an oil and gas industry that is already cutting jobs, but investing in stable jobs in industries like renewable energy, such as the new facility at Nigg.

“So while the Tories have been scaremongering, Greens in Government have established a transition fund for the north east and Moray to do exactly that.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: “This is another nail in the coffin for the Cambo oil field. Climate science is very clear that fossil fuels are driving the crisis and new projects anywhere in the world are a threat to people everywhere.”

She called on the UK Government to official reject Cambo and end licensing for all new oil and gas projects as well as planning for a “rapid and just transition to renewable energy”.

GMB general secretary, Gary Smith, said: “It’s meant to be a transition to a low carbon economy, not a surrender of the national interest. The cheerleaders for Cambo’s shutdown aren’t just throwing energy workers under the bus, but also our security of supply for the gas we will still need on the road to 2050.”

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “It’s welcome news that the Cambo oilfield has been put on pause. The next step must be to press stop.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have said previously that unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is not consistent with our climate obligations and we continue to call on the UK Government, who have the power to act in this instance, to urgently re-assess all approved oil licenses where drilling has not yet commenced against our climate commitments.

“A just transition must be delivered across all of our communities, including those that have a dependency on oil and gas.”

He added that the Scottish Government is “undertaking a programme of work and analysis to better understand Scotland’s energy requirements” and has provided a £500 million Just Transition Fund and support for “the north east and Moray”.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department said: “While this is ultimately a commercial decision to be taken independently by Siccar Point Energy, we remain committed to our domestic offshore oil and gas sector, which continues to keep us warm, fuel our cars and strengthen our security of supply while we grow our renewables sector.

“Without a domestic source of gas, we would be even more reliant on foreign imports.”