Rosebank Approval Madness

Central Government, Energy Companies

Letter to Julian Smith MP, followed by his reply:

Dear Julian

I am writing on behalf of ACE Settle and area to ask you to urge the Prime Minister to reconsider his and the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary’s decision to sanction the Rosebank oil field.

I do so for the following reasons:

  • Energy security  – would be better served by further investment in renewables rather than relying on the production of more oil that will have to be purchased through the open global market.
  • Net zero – the International Energy Agency’s, Director Fatih Birol,  commenting on their new Routemap published this Tuesday (26th) said ‘as a result of the decline in fossil fuel demand, no new long-lead-time upstream oil & gas projects are needed. The Climate Change Committee has also said, in its recent progress report in June, that whilst the UK ‘will continue to need some oil and gas until it reaches Net Zero’ that…‘this does not in itself justify the development of new North Sea fields’.
  • Value for money – Equinor, as the majority owner, will receive £3.75 bn of tax subsidies from the UK public, despite that calculations made by ‘Rystad Energy’ for the developers and Government show that the current value of future tax payments from Rosebank [will] be smaller than the profit-sheltering tax breaks that will be handed to Equinor and Ithaca Energy to develop the field. Furthermore, the Commons’ business, energy and industrial strategy committee reported in May 2023 that windfall taxes on energy companies [are] “less generous” for renewable electricity generators “than those given to the oil and gas sector”; inequalities that were “putting the viability of many renewable projects in danger” (Financial Times: 2.5.23).

In our view this decision is utter madness. Please therefore take note of these comments and persuade the PM to reject this new oil and gas field.

Thank you

ACE Settle

Julian Smith’s reply:

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for contacting me about the Rosebank oil and gas field.

As you know, regulators have just approved the drilling in Rosebank oil and gas field. This has the potential to produce 8 per cent of Britain’s oil output which is in line with the Government’s plans to secure our domestic energy supply in the face of global events. 

It is my understanding that, as is normal in these cases, the regulators submit all proposals for extensive scrutiny which includes a detailed environmental impact assessment process and an extensive consultation. Comment is invited on the proposals from a number of statutory nature conservation bodies, and there is an opportunity for members of the public and non-governmental organisations to engage in the decision-making process.  Now that both regulators have made their final decision about the Rosebank application, the decision along with a detailed summary of conclusions on its likely environmental impact, will be published for us all to study.

I appreciate your concerns about the approval of this application. Oil and natural gas are still required for heating, cooking and transport, and are vital to the production of many everyday essentials such as medicines, plastics, cosmetics, and household appliances. While the Government is working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee, with the UK as net importers of both oil and gas.

This recognises that importing oil and gas harms our ambition to reach net zero. According to the North Sea Transition Authority, imported gas has a carbon footprint which is three times that of domestically produced gas.

The Government is therefore boosting our energy security by committing to new oil and gas field licences in the North Sea, making sure we are not reliant on expensive, foreign imports. It is also investing in Carbon Capture and Storage, delivering on our net zero ambitions while creating 25,000 jobs and driving £10 billion of investment.

This will cut bills, cut emissions, and cut our dependence on foreign imports, safeguarding our long-term energy security, supporting families with the cost of living, and delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to grow the economy.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely,