Marine Protected Areas

Controversial Cambo oil field endangering MPA

Written by Oceanographic Staff

The proposed Cambo oil field is a controversial pipeline project that would cut through the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt, while potentially carrying hundreds of millions of oil barrels. The region is a UK Marine Protected Area in which five water masses meet. The nutrient-rich waters make it the perfect spot for cold water species to thrive, including sponges, worms and molluscs.

While the UK government has said that they would assess the environmental impact before it would get the go-ahead, a review from the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide has said the project “could jeopardise hundreds of species over several decades, as well as livelihoods”.

The Cambo oil field can be found around 125 km to the west of the Shetland Islands in water depths of between 1,050 and 1,100 m. 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. By writing to Opred, the offshore oil and gas environmental regulator, they raised concerns about how the pipelines would affect the seabed, numerous marine species as well as the local fishing industry. Furthermore, they pointed out how an oil spill could devastate the area.

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.”

On the other hand, a spokesman for Siccar Point Energy, one of the parties that would be involved in extracting the oil field’s resources, commented: “The export pipeline from Cambo is for gas. All our environmental work is underpinned by extensive special scientific analysis and research, predominantly using external specialists.”

Originally licensed in 2001, the Cambo oil field is currently being assessed, before a decision is made whether the project will be implemented.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.

Photography courtesy of Pixabay.

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