Billionaire industrialist Sir Ian Wood has hit out at politicians who have failed to support the controversial Cambo oil and gas development, warning it will create an “adverse investment environment” with thousands of jobs on the line.
Huge doubt has been cast on the future of the oilfield in the west of Shetland last night after Shell decided not to progress the project.
The move was claimed as a victory for environmental campaigners who have used Cambo as a key climate change battleground in the run up to and since the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has faced claims she has “abandoned” the North Sea oil and gas industry after confirming her opposition to the scheme, saying at Holyrood last month: “I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light”.
Sir Ian Wood, who is chairman of ETZ ltd, said he urged politicians to “reflect carefully on their public statements on oil and gas and the impact they have on investment in the industry”.
Future prosperity ‘depends on it’
He added: “We must not create an adverse investment environment at this crucial moment in our energy transition journey.
“The future prosperity of our region and the country’s ability to meet net zero, depends on it.”
Shell, which holds a 30% stake in the Cambo project, dealt a surprise blow when it announced it was pulling out.
It said its reasons not to proceed were because “the economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough”, as well as the potential for delays.
Siccar Point said it was “disappointed” at Shell’s change of position but that it remained “confident about the qualities of a project” and its ability to go ahead.
In a statement, the firm’s chief executive Jonathan Roger said: “We will continue to engage with the UK Government and wider stakeholders on the future development of Cambo,” adding: “Cambo remains critical to the UK’s energy security and economy.”
Fervent hopes for ‘thousands of jobs’
Sir Ian also said Shell’s decision was disappointing but that he “fervently” hoped it would go ahead.
He welcomed “Siccar Point’s continued commitment to the development and the very good reasons they have given as to why it must go ahead”.
“We fervently hope that it does as it will create thousands of jobs across the north east of Scotland both directly and across our supply chain and make a significant contribution to meeting our energy requirements,” he said.
“It has been made patently clear for some time we cannot put ourselves in the position of reducing domestic production only to increase carbon heavy imports from overseas. This would be entirely counter productive, both environmentally and economically.
“The skills, experience and infrastructure of a world class oil and gas industry will play a crucial role in accelerating energy transition and meeting net zero.
“We must support the industry in meeting this ambition and it is essential the Scottish and UK Governments do too.”
Protesters hail ‘end of Cambo’
Numerous protests focused on the project have taken place in the UK – Shell CEO Ben van Beurden was recently the target of demonstrators.
A pair of kayakers even blocked a vessel in Norway in August amid suspicion it was taking drilling kit to the west of Shetland field.
Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, which is coordinating the Stop Cambo campaign, said: “This is the end for Cambo. Shell has seen the writing on the wall.
“Its statement makes it clear that the economics are against new oil and gas developments.
“But the widespread public and political pressure is what’s made Cambo untenable.
“There is now broad understanding that there can be no new oil and gas projects anywhere if we’re going to maintain a safe climate.”