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UK energy minister insists there’s been ‘no change’ in policy on new fields despite Jackdaw blow

© PANorth Sea licences
Thursday June 21, 2018. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The UK’s energy minister has moved to reassure the North Sea sector after Shell’s Jackdaw was dealt a significant blow.

Following a meeting with the Anglo-Dutch supermajor, Greg Hands said there has been “no change” in Westminster’s policy on new oil and gas fields.

He added that ministers “remain committed” to the sector and the North Sea Transition Deal.

Meanwhile, he acknowledged Shell’s (LON: RDSA -1,722p) commitment to become a net zero business by 2050, as well as its efforts in hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

Mr Hands’ comments will go some way to easing the anxiety currently being felt by oil and gas firms, amid calls for UK Government to wrap up North Sea production.

Energy Voice broke the news last week that the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) had declined to approve the Environmental Statement for Shell’s Jackdaw scheme.

The reasons for not sanctioning the field are currently unknown. Numerous requests have been made by Energy Voice for updates.

Responding to last week’s news, a Shell spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed by the decision and are considering the implications.”

OPRED, which sits within the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), made a request to Shell in June for more details on 14 parts of its Jackdaw field development plans.

They included why the decision was made to name the Shearwater platform as the tieback host for Jackdaw and not Harbour Energy’s Judy, which is slightly closer.

Shell said in the Environmental Statement that Shearwater offered a slightly lower-risk option in terms of brownfield modifications.

The company also said that there were no major environmental differentiators between the two options.

Jackdaw, a gas condensate field, has expected reserves of between 120-250 million barrels of oil equivalent.

It had been planned to produce via a new, normally unmanned installation, tied back to Shearwater, 20 miles away.

Situated about 155 miles east of Aberdeen, a final investment decision for Jackdaw had been expected later this year. It was initially due in Q2 last year but was pushed back by Covid.

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