Nicola Sturgeon's opposition to Cambo 'worries' oil and gas industry

A leading figure in the oil and gas industry has said fields like Cambo should go ahead to continue to supply domestic demand, despite Nicola Sturgeon’s opposition to the development going ahead.

Last week the SNP leader clarified her position on the oil field west of Shetland, saying it should not be approved, but stressed that ultimately it was not her decision

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of the trade association Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), said the First Minister’s opposition to Cambo was worrying the sector and called on political parties to unite behind the need for a just transition.

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Ms Michie spoke to The Scotsman from OGUK’s Offshore Decommissioning Conference, which is taking place this week in St Andrews.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, recently clarified her opposition to the Cambo oilfield.

Asked whether Ms Sturgeon’s view on Cambo that it should not “get the green light” and that she does not think “we can continue to give the go ahead to new fields” worries the oil and gas industry, the industry representative said: “I will say that it does.”

She added: “As a sector we were one of the first industrial sectors to come out in support of net zero for the UK and Scotland.

"We are changing and we are committed to supporting the Scottish and the UK net zero ambitions and we think that we can do that in a way that recognises that the UK and Scotland will continue to use oil and gas, albeit on a declining basis.

"Our argument is that as long as that is the case we should be using our own companies, our own people, our own homegrown industry to do that and that’s why projects like Cambo need to come forward.

"Although as the First Minister has said it is not her decision, I think it is still key that the Scottish Government does support the sector in terms of its ongoing contribution to the economy and the fact that this sector will underpin the energy transition going forward.

"It’s the same companies, it’s the same people, it’s the same skills, the expertise that are actually crucial to these new sectors that are coming our way.”

Ms Michie said OGUK was “very keen” new fields be brought on due to the fact decommissioning is happening at a faster rate than new fields opening, arguing production will “start to decline pretty rapidly” if new fields aren’t opened.

She said charities and activists could be accused of “virtue signalling” when pointing at other countries’ sectors such as in Denmark and Costa Rica, and said any new fields would be in line with targets to reduce emissions within the sector to net zero by 2050.

Ms Michie said: "I think we should be much more open and robust about the fact that we have a very good sector that can and is taking us towards the energy transition.

"It’s easy to target ‘let’s switch off supply’, but this is a demand conversation because to switch off supply you are just going to have to increase your imports, where this has to be a way of really driving down the demands and ensuring that you’ve still got your homegrown supply to support that decreasing demand for as long as you need it.”

Ms Michie also called on politicians to put politics aside and agree on a “joint vision” for the just transition or risk standing still, labelling the transition a “massive opportunity” that would avoid “dramatic job losses” if it is done in a “managed way”.

She said: "This is a really big, long-term project and it is really important for politicians for all parties to have a shared vision and a collective agreement as to where this industry and the renewable transition is going.

"Without that shared vision, if we get lots of people fighting over different policies and visions we’ll end up not going very far."

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