Development work at the site of the proposed Cambo oil field has been delayed until next year, it has been confirmed.
Jonathan Roger, chief executive of Siccar Point Energy, said “operational issues” and a “closing weather window” in the area, west of Shetland, were behind the hold-up.
But environmental campaigners at Greenpeace noted the move was announced after a protest by its activists against the controversial development.
Demonstrators in kayaks paddled out to a ship being used by Siccar Point in a dock near Stavanger, Norway, and held up a banner demanding action from the UK Prime Minister.
The protesters told the PM: “Boris: Stop Cambo.”
Mel Evans, head of oil and gas transition at Greenpeace UK, said: “Johnson must stop Cambo, or he will be remembered as a climate coward.”
Environmental campaigners have already warned that the Cambo site could yield as many as 255 million barrels of oil, and the estimated 132 million tonnes of CO2 emissions that could be produced would require an area of land 1.5 times the size of Scotland to counteract them.
Mr Roger said contractors had applied for a separate consent to install constructor anchor nodes as part of the preparatory work.
He said: “This work needs to be carried out before well construction and so can legally sit out with the full field development environmental consent process.
“Work would only ever begin with the appropriate regulatory approvals in place and a decision has been made to delay this until 2022 due to operational issues and given the closing weather window west of Shetland for this kind of operation.”
A spokewoman for the UK Government’s department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “Final consent for preparatory work at the Cambo field must first be granted by the Oil & Gas Authority. Without this consent, the work cannot commence. Ministers are not involved in this process.
“Cambo is not a new oilfield – it was licensed in 2001. Oil production from this field is already factored into our projections of future supply.
“Without a domestic source of oil and gas while we transition to a low carbon future, the UK would be even more reliant on imports from other countries.”