THE UK Government is set to approve a huge oil field off the coast of Shetland in the midst of a climate crisis.

But where is it, how much oil is there, and what does it mean for our climate targets?

Read below to find out all you need to know about the Cambo oil field, and what it could mean for Scotland. 

Where is the Cambo oil field?

The Cambo field is 125km north-west of the Shetland Islands and is located near two other oil fields - Rosebank and Schiehallion. It sits on the Corona Ridge structural feature and is one of the deepest fields discovered in Northern Europe - in 1100m of water.

READ MORE: Thousands sign petition to stop Shetland oil project 

The National:

When was the Cambo oil field discovered and how much oil is there?

The huge oil field was first discovered back in 2002 when it had five wells drilled into the structure. An exploration licence for the area was granted in 2001.

It is believed to contain over 800 million barrels of oil and has been referred to as one of the “largest undeveloped fields on the UK continental shelf”.

If the Cambo field manages to reach its 51,000 boe/day (barrels of oil equivalent per day) as it intends to, it would make it the fifth biggest producer on the UK Continental shelf.  

READ MORE: Firm majority of Scots support winding down of North Sea oil and gas extraction

Which companies are in control of the field?

Siccar Point Energy (SPE), based in Aberdeen, acquired 100% operating interest in the field after they bought out the UK arm of Austrian based firm OMV for $1 billion in January 2017. SPE then brought Shell UK in as a partner in May 2018, who have a 30% share. SPE holds the remaining 70%.  

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When are they due to start mining for oil?

If the Oil and Gas Authority approves the licence for the firms to extract oil from the field, this could start as early as next year in 2022, with the first oil production expected in 2025.

In the first phase of the project developers want to extract 150 million barrels of oil - the emissions from which are equivalent to running a coal power station for 16 years.

The field is also expected to operate until 2050 - the point the UK Government has committed to reaching net zero emissions. The Scottish Government’s target is to reach net zero in 2045. 

READ MORE: Tories' failure to understand basic reality of oil and gas is no laughing matter

What will the environmental impact be if it goes ahead?

The International Energy Agency has said that to meet the 1.5°C in the Paris Agreement - there should be no more development of oil, gas or coal projects.

The amount of oil and gas in already operating fields in the UK - excluding Cambo - will already exceed the UK’s share of emissions in relation to Paris climate goals. The climate impact from producing and burning all 800 million barrels of oil in the field would be the equivalent of 10 times Scotland’s annual emissions. 

Who is opposing the oil field and why?

The National:

Environmental campaigners such as Friends of the Earth and those in the Green party across the UK have been most vocal in opposing the project.

Friends of the Earth recently published an open letter calling on the UK government to stop the oil field, and it has already gathered over 4500 signatures.

Activists want the Scottish and UK governments to move away from oil and gas completely, and instead focus on creating a just transition for workers into renewables and other environmentally friendly energy projects.

The National:

What are the UK government saying about the oil field?

The Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change dismissed concerns about the Cambo oil field in Westminster earlier today (July 6).

Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan was probed by Green MP Caroline Lucas (above) in the House of Commons on why the UK is allowing the oil field to go ahead when the International Energy Agency has made clear there needs to be no more fossil fuel projects if the world is to make its climate targets.

Lucas said: “Yet the government is set to approve the Cambo oil field which, thanks to a loophole, won’t even be subject to its derisory checkpoint because the original licence was granted over a decade ago.

"Is it really the minister’s understanding that this new North Sea oil project won’t add to global heating because of the date on the original licence?”

Trevelyan responded: “The checkpoint will apply to all future licence rounds. 

“Those projects already licensed are already accounted for in our projections for future oil and gas production. So projects like Cambo which the Honourable Lady identifies are already licensed and are going through normal regulatory processes. 

“Estimated emissions from production from all those existing licences are already accounted for in our forward projections.”