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Cambo: Shell decision threatens thousands of jobs but doesn’t change facts of energy need

Activists from Friends of the Earth during a demonstration calling for an end to all new oil and gas projects in the North Sea.

Shell’s decision to pull out of the west of Shetland Cambo project – threatening thousands of jobs – “doesn’t change the facts” around energy supply, a business organisation has claimed.

In a statement responding to Shell’s move to pull out of the controversial oil and gas project , oil and gas industry body OGUK said it was a “commercial decision” but added that “investor confidence” in the North Sea was “essential”.

Jonathan Roger, the chief executive of the Cambo field developer Siccar Point Energy, insisted that it “remains critical to the UK’s energy security and economy”.

He added: “Whilst we are disappointed at Shell’s change of position, we remain confident about the qualities of a project that will not only create over 1,000 direct jobs as well as thousands more in the supply chain but also help ease the UK’s transition to a low carbon future”.

OGUK external relations director Jenny Stanning said: “This is a commercial decision between partners but doesn’t change the facts that the UK will continue to need new oil and gas projects if we are to protect security of supply, avoid increasing reliance on imports and support jobs.

“However, we know that to deliver the transition to a lower-carbon future, investor confidence remains essential.

“Gas and oil has a critical role to play in the nation’s future energy supply and we will continue to work with governments, industry and politicians of all parties to make this case.”

Desire to be delivered

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Russell Borthwick highlighted a “clear desire” by Siccar Point Energy, the development’s majority stakeholder, to see the project delivered.

Russell Borthwick

Mr Borthwick added: “People continue to need, and consume, oil and gas – and products derived from them – to travel, to heat and power their homes and to buy many everyday goods.

“The global energy system is changing; however, the population cannot change the way it uses energy overnight.

“Oil and gas will continue to be required throughout the transition to net-zero carbon, and new fields will be required to meet our domestic supply needs in the meantime.

Imports ‘would be madness’

“The alternative is importing oil and gas from other parts of the world, which would increase the carbon footprint of our energy use. This would be madness.

“We need our government, industry, and politicians of all parties to get our transition steps in the right order to protect jobs, provide retraining opportunities and create new ones.”

Oil and gas will continue to be required throughout the transition to net-zero carbon.”

Russell Borthwick, chief executive, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Critics of the project were jubilant, claiming the Shell decision to walk away sounded a death knell for the fossil fuel industry.

Oil and gas ‘wrong’

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, now shadow secretary of state for climate change and net-zero, said Shell’s decision was a “significant moment in the fight against the Cambo oilfield”.

Mr Miliband added: “It makes no environmental sense and now Shell is accepting it doesn’t make economic sense.

“Ploughing on with business as usual on fossil fuels will kill off our chances of keeping 1.5 degrees alive.

“Cambo carries huge risks for investors as it is simply an unsustainable choice. Shell have woken up to the fact that Cambo is the wrong choice.”

Ed Miliband

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie tweeted: “Yet more evidence that fossil fuel is the industry of the past.

“We need investment in the sustainable industries of the future, and an end to new oil and gas extraction.”

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, which is coordinating the Stop Cambo campaign, predicted the project is dead, adding: “Shell has seen the writing on the wall.

“Its statement makes it clear the economics are against new oil and gas developments.

“But the widespread public and political pressure is what’s made Cambo untenable.”

‘No case for new oil and gas’

Ms Khan continued: “There is now broad understanding there can be no new oil and gas projects anywhere if we’re going to maintain a safe climate.

“This is a message to the UK government that there is no case for new oil and gas. It must put Cambo out of its misery and reject it now.”

Greenpeace UK oil campaigner Philip Evans said: “This really should be the death blow for Cambo.

“With yet another key player turning its back on the scheme, the (UK) government is cutting an increasingly lonely figure with their continued support for the oilfield.”

‘Distraction’

Mr Evans added: “It’s time Boris Johnson put this distraction aside and got on with the urgent task of delivering a just transition for offshore workers and their communities to the green industries of the future.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland claimed “people power” had “made the climate-wrecking Cambo development so toxic that even oil giant Shell doesn’t want to be associated with it anymore”.

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