SNP Westminster chief Stephen Flynn claimed the Cambo oil field near Shetland should not be ruled out if it can successfully meet key climate change targets.
The Aberdeen South MP hinted the controversial project would have the potential to boost Scotland’s energy security during a cost-of-living crisis.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously signalled her opposition to the oil field in 2021 and said it should not be given the green light.
Earlier this week the SNP underlined its belief that Scotland needs to shift away from using fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
But Mr Flynn told the Daily Record: “If it meets the climate compatibility checkpoint, if that’s a strengthened climate compatibility checkpoint, as what the Scottish Government would like to see, then I’m not sure why it wouldn’t go ahead.
“But it would need to meet the threshold as laid out. That threshold, as I understand it, does take into consideration the necessity for energy security.”
He added: “What I would hope is that industry would look at it on the basis of the fact that the Scottish Government been clear in and around the climate compatibility checkpoints but also the case of marrying needs of energy security.”
The Scottish Greens – who share power with the SNP at Holyrood – strongly oppose all future drilling projects in the North Sea.
But Rishi Sunak’s Tories want to continue future oil and gas projects while the UK gradually shifts towards using renewable energy.
On Wednesday, the prime minister clashed with Mr Flynn in the House of Commons over the SNP’s energy strategy.
The Conservative leader claimed Mr Flynn’s party “don’t want to support” energy firms operating in the north-east.
Scottish Tory chief Douglas Ross put Mr Flynn in the firing line and claimed Ms Sturgeon’s plans were “naive and reckless”.
Allies of the new SNP Westminster boss – who succeeded Ian Blackford in December – hinted he would be more supportive to the oil and gas industry.
SNP energy chief Michael Matheson said on Wednesday his party had “engaged” with their Westminster group over the controversial energy plans.
However, he refused to confirm if his strategy had the backing of SNP MPs in the north-east.
Mr Flynn said he was “not worried” by the SNP proposing stronger climate compatibility checkpoints on new oil fields.
He said: “If we don’t need to extract oil and gas then we shouldn’t be extracting oil and gas – that’s a fairly basic concept.
“The wider issue here is whether we do need it, and if that continued extraction will allow us to meet our climate objectives.”
In September, the UK Government said they want to fast-track five oil and gas projects in Scotland including Cambo.
In December 2021, corporation Shell said they would not push ahead with Cambo in the midst of opposition to the drilling.
But they said this was being reconsidered last March in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the global energy crisis which followed.
A month later it was announced the oil field would be taken over by Ithaca Energy, who claimed the site was a “huge opportunity”.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns Mary Church said: “The evidence is even clearer now than it was in 2021 when the First Minister spoke out in opposition to the Cambo oil field: new oil and gas extraction is not compatible with a liveable future.
“No truly robust climate compatibility test would ever give the go-ahead to massive, polluting developments like Cambo, so the SNP leadership needs to get clear on its position and reject all new oil and gas extraction outright.
“If even the Westminster leader of the SNP doesn’t understand what the Scottish Government’s position is, how is the energy sector or anyone else supposed to?
“There is no room for any new oil and gas development, and some fields already under production must be phased out early for any chance of avoiding catastrophic warming.
“It’s time for the SNP to move on from the rhetoric and deliberate ambiguity and get off fossil fuels within this decade.
“The huge public and political opposition to the Cambo oil field which led to Shell pulling its funding from the project has not gone away.
“Thousands of people have backed the linked campaigns against the Jackdaw and Rosebank fields which the oil industry wants to develop.
“Meanwhile, the climate crisis has intensified, showing more than ever the urgency of the need to phase out fossil fuels.”