The Scotland Office minister will meet the developers of the controversial proposed Cambo oil field, saying it is “far preferable” for oil and gas to come from domestic sources than importing.
David Duguid said he will hold talks with Siccar Point Energy in Aberdeen on Tuesday to discuss the project off the west coast of Shetland.
On Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged the Prime Minister to “reassess” the licence for the proposed site in her first public intervention on the divisive issue.
Mr Duguid, the Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said he was “eager to learn more” about the suggested project, adding: “As we transition to cleaner, low-carbon and renewable energy, demand for oil and gas is declining and will continue to do so, even with new fields such as Cambo.
“But until that transition is made, as the UK Government is pioneering with the North Sea Transition Deal, sources like Cambo are still required.
“The Independent Climate Change Committee advises that we will continue to need oil and gas in the coming years as it is still vital to the production of many everyday essentials, including medicines.
“It is far preferable for the UK’s needs to come from our domestic supply, supporting our own workers, rather than relying on imports whose sources may not be responsibly recovered.
“Not producing our own oil and gas through the energy transition not only risks the economy and jobs but also security of energy supply.”
An exploration licence for the field was granted in 2001 and the Oil and Gas Authority is considering whether to approve extraction of an estimated 800 million barrels of oil there.
In her letter to Boris Johnson, Ms Sturgeon called for the UK Government to “agree to reassess licences already issued but where field development has not yet commenced.”
“That would include the proposed Cambo development”, she said.
Ms Sturgeon went on: “Such licences, some of them issued many years ago, should be reassessed in light of the severity of the climate emergency we now face, and against a compatibility checkpoint that is fully aligned with our climate change targets and obligations.”
While not a full-throated opposition to Cambo going ahead, the First Minister’s intervention is her first on the issue.
Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report, painting a stark picture of the impact of humanity on the climate due to the burning of fossil fuels and other pollutants.
According to the findings, global warming will continue into at least the middle of this century, but failure to take action to limit CO2 emissions now would mean the target set by governments – of remaining below 1.5C of warming – will be missed.
Before the report, the Scottish Government was under pressure to oppose the development of Cambo, which is estimated will produce 132 million tonnes of carbon during its lifetime – a figure that would need a land mass 1.5 times bigger than Scotland to counter.
But calls to oppose the development intensified after the IPCC’s findings were made public on Monday.