Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said the approval of west of Shetland oilfield did not represent ‘climate leadership’.
In a thread on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Yousaf said he was “disappointed” that the project had been given the go-ahead by UK regulators.
Operator Equinor (OSLO: EQNR) and Ithaca Energy (LON: ITH) announced on Wednesday that they had taken a final investment decision (FID) on the scheme following a rubber-stamp from the North Sea Transition Authority.
The two intend to invest $3.8bn the project, targeting 300 million in recoverable barrels of oil over two phases.
However, Mr Yousaf raised fears that much of this production will go to export markets.
“We’ve raised concerns that the majority of what is extracted from Rosebank will go overseas, not remain in Scotland or the UK,” he added.
🧵I'm disappointed #Rosebank has been given the go-ahead. We've raised concerns that the majority of what is extracted from Rosebank will go overseas, not remain in Scotland or the UK.
We're investing £500m so workers & industry transition from fossil fuels to a net zero future. https://t.co/YfcJCqs5QQ
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) September 27, 2023
Mr Yousaf previously told the Daily Record that for that reason, a claim the project would shore up domestic energy security “doesn’t quite stack up.”
Writing on Wednesday he added: “We recognise the significant contribution the oil and gas sector makes to Scotland. However, our future is not in unlimited oil and gas extraction. It is in accelerating our just transition to renewables.”
He said the approval of further oil and gas projects in the North Sea “risk the pace” of that transition.
Taking aim at recent rollbacks on net-zero policy by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the first minister added: “In the face of a climate catastrophe, the UK Government have dropped their green pledges and committed to approving 100 new oil & gas licences. That isn’t climate leadership. It is climate denial.
In response, he pledged that “Scotland will remain on the right side of history and demonstrate climate leadership.”
Mr Yousaf also pointed to the Scottish Government’s commitment to a £500m Just Transition Fund for Moray and the north east, part of a 10-year pledge from Holyrood aimed at ensuring oil and gas workers can transition into jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Sunak: Approval ‘right decision’
Also taking to the social media platform, the Prime Minister affirmed the green light was “the right long-term decision.”
“The Climate Change Committee have said you don’t reach Net Zero by wishing it,” Mr Sunak said.
“As we make the transition to renewables, we will still need oil and gas – it makes sense to use our own supplies such as Rosebank. This is the right long-term decision for the UK’s energy security.”
The Climate Change Committee have said you don’t reach Net Zero by wishing it.
As we make the transition to renewables, we will still need oil and gas – it makes sense to use our own supplies such as Rosebank.
This is the right long-term decision for the UK’s energy security. https://t.co/9qpCsuWjc2
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 27, 2023
Meanwhile Mr Yousaf’s predecessor, former FM Nicola Sturgeon, said she agreed with criticisms of the scheme voiced by Green MP Caroline Lucas.
She also argued that “by consuming scarce resources that could be going to renewables, it risks slowing the green transition and the jobs that come from it.”