THE Scottish Greens have slammed the UK government as an “embarrassment” for allowing a huge new oil field off the coast of Shetland to go ahead during the climate crisis.

Cambo oil field, co-owned by Siccar Point Energy and Shell, is due to start drilling in 2022, if they are given permission by the Oil and Gas Authority.

The firms plan to start by drilling 150 million barrels of oil - the equivalent of the annual pollution from 16 coal-fired power stations.

Cambo is believed to contain more than 800m barrels of oil and will operate until 2050 - the point the UK Government has committed to Net Zero emissions.

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: What does it mean for climate targets?

And now, the Scottish Greens have hit out at the “incalculable folly” of the UK government and dubbed them an “embarrassment” for approving the oil field ahead of COP26 -  a global climate summit due to be held in Glasgow later this year.

The Scottish Government has said the issue is a “reserved matter” and that oil and gas businesses only get government support if they contribute to a “sustainable and inclusive energy transition”. 

It comes as thousands of people signed an open letter from Friends of the Earth to the UK government calling for the huge oil field to be scrapped. 

The National:

Ariane Burgess, Scottish Greens MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said: “I’m not surprised opposition to this reckless fossil fuel expansion is growing. 

“Approving this vast new oil field in Shetland ahead of the crucial COP climate summit in Scotland would be an embarrassment and incalculable folly by the UK Government.

“The fact is every extra barrel of oil extracted brings us a step closer to total climate breakdown, so instead of rubber stamping such a reckless expansion and its dire environmental impact, governments should be saying No to Cambo.”

The Scottish Government’s target to reach net zero is in 2045 - five years before Cambo will finish production.

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: Thousands sign petition to stop Shetland oil project

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

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are wholly committed to becoming a net-zero economy by 2045 and, whilst this is ultimately a reserved area, any Scottish Government support for oil and gas businesses operating in the North Sea is conditional upon them contributing to a sustainable and inclusive energy transition, and ensuring a secure energy supply.

“The oil and gas sector can play a positive role in Scotland’s energy transition, helping to design the diverse energy system we need for the future. 

“The knowledge and experience of the oil and gas sector and its supply chain will also be important for developing and investing in essential low carbon technologies, such as Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage – a technology that is seen by experts such as the UK Climate Change Committee and International Energy Agency as being vital to achieving Scottish, UK and international climate emissions targets.”

The National:

The approval for the Cambo oil field is likely to be given by Oil and Gas UK.

Katy Heidenreich, Oil and Gas UK’s supply chain and operations director, said: “The UK offshore oil and gas industry is changing and applying low carbon thinking to all its projects, including the Shetland-based Cambo project, to support the transition to greener, cleaner energy. 

“This Cambo project is not a new development but one that has been in the planning process since the government granted its exploration licence back in 2001.

“Bringing projects to the development stage is a lengthy process involving rigorous assessment of all aspects, including environmental management, safety, decommissioning responsibilities and extensive engagement with all stakeholders to take account of societal concerns.

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

The National:

"Through the North Sea Transition Deal, recently agreed with government, the offshore sector is using its 50 years of energy expertise to ensure the UK hits its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

A Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spokesperson said: “The original licensing consent for the Cambo oil field dates back to 2001. 

“The Secretary of State is not involved in the decision whether to grant consent to Cambo oil field – this will be taken by the Oil and Gas Authority, who are ultimately responsible.

“While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, we also know there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee.”