Labour would not revoke new oil field licence to avoid creating ‘difficult position for investors’

Labour has confirmed that while it is opposed to the development of Rosebank oil field, it would not in government revoke the licence, citing the “difficult position for investors”.

It comes after a long-awaited decision has been made on the Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea this morning, with UK regulators giving the green light for drilling.

Norwegian state energy company Equinor has received the go-ahead to progress with development at the site. 

The company expects to produce 300m barrels of oil from the field in its lifetime.

Commenting on the news, shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told Sky News: “We don’t support Rosebank, we think the priority for the country should be transitioning away from fossil fuel partly because of the volatility of the price of fossil fuels. And we’ve seen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just what that has meant not just for heating prices but for electricity.

However, he added: “We have said we understand this is a difficult position for investors. We will not revoke any licences that the Government chooses to grant but we don’t think this is good value for money.”

This morning, a spokesman for the North Sea Transition Authority, a Government-owned body, said: “We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project.

“The FDP is awarded in accordance with our published guidance and taking net zero considerations into account throughout the project’s lifecycle”

Together with its British partner Ithaca Energy, Equinor will now invest $3.8 billion (£3.1 billion) in the first phase of the development.

The announcement this morning comes after the prime minister last week delayed the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 in what amounted to a watering down of interim plans designed to help the UK hit net zero by 2050.

Greenpeace UK climate campaigner Philip Evans said: “Rishi Sunak has proven once and for all that he puts the profits of oil companies above everyday people.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has said: “Giving the green light to this huge new oil field is morally obscene. This Government must be held accountable for its complicity in this climate crime.

“Amidst a summer of raging wildfires and the hottest July on record, this Government approves the biggest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea – set to produce more than the combined CO2 emissions of all 28 low-income countries in the world.

“Energy security and cheaper bills aren’t delivered by allowing highly-subsidised, foreign-owned fossil fuel giants to extract more oil and gas from these islands and sell it overseas to the highest bidder”.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said: “The disgraceful decision to give Rosebank the green light shows the extent of the UK Government’s climate denial.

“Fossil fuels are driving both climate breakdown and the cost-of-living crisis, yet the UK Government is slamming its foot down on the accelerator.

“The fight against Rosebank will continue. Fossil fuel projects rely not only on Government support, but also financing and broader public acceptance”.