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UK regulators approved on Wednesday the development plan for the Rosebank oil and gas project in the North Sea, paving the way for operator Equinor to proceed with a $3.8-billion investment in the field, which has stirred controversy in Britain amid debates about the need for new oil and gas projects.
The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) on Wednesday granted development and production consent for the Rosebank field northwest of Shetland, the largest discovered untapped resource on the UK Continental Shelf.
“We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project,” a spokesperson for NSTA said in a statement.
“The FDP is awarded in accordance with our published guidance and taking net zero considerations into account throughout the project’s lifecycle.”
The approval for Rosebank has been delayed amid concerns about whether the development plan would meet requirements for electrification for net-zero emissions. These requirements are part of the so-called North Sea Transition Deal, an agreement between the UK government and the offshore industry to cut emissions from oil and gas development and production as much as possible.
Following the development consent from the regulator today, Equinor and its partner Ithaca Energy took the final investment decision to progress Phase 1 of Rosebank, investing $3.8 billion, the Norwegian major said.
Total recoverable resources at the Rosebank field are estimated at around 300 million barrels of oil, with Phase 1 targeting an estimated 245 million barrels of oil.
Equinor plans to develop the field with subsea wells tied back to a redeployed Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO), with start-up planned in 2026-2027. Oil will be transported to refineries by shuttle tankers, while gas will be exported through the West of Shetland Pipeline system to mainland Scotland.
Currently, Equinor supplies 29% of the UK’s gas, and 15% of the UK’s oil, the company said.
The project approval was slammed by Greenpeace UK, which said that Rosebank’s development is “A disaster for the climate and for people's energy bills.”
“Rishi Sunak has proven once and for all that he puts the profits of oil companies above everyday people,” Greenpeace UK said, referring to the UK’s Prime Minister who has pledged to continue supporting oil and gas development in the North Sea.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.