Shell, one of the main partners in the Cambo oil field project west of Scotland, has decided to pull out of the controversial project, throwing the future of it into doubt. The oil giant which had a 30% stake in the project announced: “After comprehensive screening of the proposed Cambo development, we have concluded the economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough at this time, as well as having the potential for delays.” Some sources believe that the outspoken opposition also had a role to play in Shell’s decision.
The Cambo oil field is a controversial pipeline project that, if it would get approved, would cut through the Faroe-Shetland sponge belt, while potentially carrying hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. The region in which the oil field is planned is a UK Marine Protected Area in which nutrient-rich waters attract numerous cold water species, such as sponges, worms and molluscs.
Environmentalists and marine conservationists, including Greenpeace UK, the Marine Conservation Society and WWF UK, worry that the proposed oil field and the related Cambo drilling application might directly affect marine life.
Marine Conservation Society’s Calum Duncan said: “Construction, movement and potential leaking from this pipeline could have devastating consequences for deep-sea sponge and protected features already under pressure from damaging activities such as deep-sea trawling.”
Originally licensed in 2001, the Cambo oil field is currently being assessed, before a decision is made whether the project will be implemented.
While Shell’s withdrawal has been welcomed by conservationists and green campaigners, project leader Siccar Point Energy said: “Whilst we are disappointed at Shell’s change of position, we remain confident about the qualities of a project. It will not only create over 1,000 direct jobs as well as thousands more in the supply chain, but also help ease the UK’s transition to a low carbon future through responsibly produced domestic oil. Given Shell’s decision, we are now in discussions with our contractors, supply chain and wider stakeholders to review options.”
This could mean that some other company or investor could quickly take Shell’s share so that the Cambo oil field will still have a chance to get the green light.
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Photography courtesy of Unsplash.