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Regulators Delay Approval For UK's Largest Undeveloped Oil And Gas Field

  • Approval for Rosebank, set to be sanctioned by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning and the North Sea Transition Authority, is postponed amid concerns of meeting electrification requirements for net zero.
  • The delay is a setback for the government, which sees oil and gas exploration as crucial for its energy security strategy and for reducing reliance on overseas supplies.
  • The delay poses a challenge for stakeholders Equinor and Ithaca, who must now prove the project's viability in the transition to a green energy future.

Approval for Rosebank, the UK’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, has been delayed again by regulators amid growing concerns over the project’s net zero requirements.

Concerns relate to whether it will meet electrification requirements – which are key for reaching net zero and decarbonising the energy grid.

City A.M. understands the site, which was set to be green-lit by Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning and the North Sea Transition Authority before parliamentary recess later this month, will not be sanctioned until August at the earliest.

It is believed there is a risk of its approval being delayed into autumn.

This is one of multiple delays to hit the approval process for the project since it was first submitted last year.

Rosebank, when completed, is expected to produce up to 500m barrels of oil and gas equivalent over its operating lifetime.

It was widely expected to be sanctioned before July 20, when MPs break for the summer, as first reported by City A.M. but this is no longer set to be the case.

However, regulators are determined for all projects, including new oil and gas fields, to have a clear pathway for electrification – as the UK races to reach net zero over the next three decades and decarbonise its electricity grid by 2035.

As it stands, there is concern Rosebank will not pass this test – leaving stakeholders Equinor and Ithaca with the task of confirming its viability in the transition to a green energy future.

This is also a blow to the government, which has listed oil and gas exploration as a key factor in its energy security strategy as it aims to reduce the country’s reliance overseas supplies to meet its energy needs.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt even recently brought in a price floor for the windfall tax, while energy security secretary Grant Shapps was not expected to intervene in its approval process.

The North Sea Transition Authority declined to comment.


Ithaca, Equinor and the government have been approached for comment.

By Nicholas Earl via CityAM

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