THE Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has refused to release any correspondence regarding the controversial Cambo oil field.

The regulatory body is in charge of overseeing the exploration and development of oil and gas fields across the UK, and denied The National’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request relating to the crude oil field 125km off the coast of Shetland.

We asked for correspondence, briefing documents and memos relating to the oil field, co-owned by Siccar Point Energy and Shell, from January 1 this year.

The request was denied on cost grounds, but The National appealed the decision and asked for correspondence from July and August only.

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

Environmental campaigners said they were not surprised by the move, and asked what the regulator has to hide in denying the request.

The Scottish Greens said that the UK Government’s stance on Cambo, ahead of COP26 global climate talks set to be held in Glasgow in a matter of weeks, is an “international embarrassment”.

The National asked the OGA for any internal and external correspondence regarding the Cambo oil field - in particular with Siccar Point Energy, Shell or Petrofac Facilities Management (PFM).

We asked specifically for this information due to an incident in August this year when Greenpeace called on Boris Johnson to explain why drilling equipment was due to be installed at the Cambo oil field before it was signed off.

The equipment didn’t make it to the area after the story broke and Greenpeace activists targetted the ship, as Siccar Point u-turned and insisted work wouldn’t be starting until 2022.

The National:

However, it later emerged that Greenpeace had written to the OGA on August 19 warning the proposed works logged by PFM, on behalf of Siccar Point, would be illegal without a permit.

Then, on the same day, August 19, PFM applied to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a ‘Direction to undertake Drilling Operations’.

However, the OGA has denied the FOI request and refused to release any information which may shed light on the incident.

In their response, they said that the cost to find the information would “exceed the appropriate limit” of 18 continuous working hours or £450 (calculated at £25 per hour for members of staff) to determine whether they have the information, to locate it, retrieve it and extract it.

The OGA also claimed to be exempt as the request is “manifestly unreasonable”.

READ MORE: Scottish Tories condemned for 'campaign of disinformation' on social media

They stated: “The OGA is a relatively small organisation and the time it would take to search for, collate and respond to the request would place a manifestly unreasonable and disproportionate burden on the OGA’s resources (including staff time). In light of this the OGA is also refusing to comply with this under Section 12(5)(b) EIR.”

Caroline Rance, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "The Oil and Gas Authority was initially set up on the recommendation of an oil tycoon, and their board is stacked with former oil company employees so their closeness to the industry makes it difficult to see how they can ever effectively regulate oil and gas in the public interest.

“It is not surprising that they are refusing to release internal discussions about the controversial Cambo field.

The National:

Greenpeace campaigners launched action on August 19 to stop equipment heading to the Cambo oil field

“What is there to hide in their correspondence with those companies who want to press ahead with this climate-wrecking proposal?

“The failure to oppose the Cambo oil field is a huge embarrassment for both the UK and Scottish Governments as we head into the UN climate talks.

“Both climate science and energy experts are crystal clear that there can be no new oil or gas developments if we want to stay with the agreed limits of 1.5C global temperature rises.”

A Scottish Greens spokesperson said: "With world leaders meeting for climate crisis talks in Glasgow in just a couple of weeks, the UK government's stance on Cambo oil field is an international embarrassment.

READ MORE: George Monbiot: Independent Scotland could show a way out of climate crisis

"We know that every extra barrel of oil extracted brings us a step closer to total climate breakdown.

“So the UK government must be transparent and honest about its operations around Cambo and any dealings it has with oil & gas companies.

“The UK's own Environment Agency made clear this week that there's no time left for obfuscation or delay, the Tories would do well to listen."

The OGA said they had nothing further to add when approached for comment.

You can read the OGA's full response to The National's FOI below.

The National:

The National: