Millions of Cambo oil field barrels 'may not be used', says Scotland Office minister

The 800 million barrels of oil that could be extracted from the proposed Cambo oil field may not be used, Scotland Office minister David Duguid has said.

The North Sea oil industry could expand into the Cambo field off the west coast of Shetland. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The controversial proposals have come under focus in recent weeks, coinciding with a UN panel sounding the alarm over climate change.

An exploration licence was issued for the field near Shetland in 2001, but the Oil and Gas Authority is now considering if extraction should be allowed.

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Scotland minister defends Cambo oil field, insisting sources like it ‘still requ...

Mr Duguid will meet Siccar Point Energy – the firm looking to lead the extraction – on Tuesday.

Consumption of all of the oil that could be extracted from Cambo would produce 132 million tonnes of carbon, which would require a land mass 1.5 times the size of Scotland to counter.

But the Banff and Buchan MP said on Monday the entire stock would not necessarily have to be used.

“If the Cambo field does get the go-ahead, that will get the go-ahead to extract that oil and gas,” he said on Good Morning Scotland.

“What you’re talking about is the consumption and combustion of that oil and gas.”

Pressed on if the UK would allow the oil to “sit in barrels” rather than be used, Mr Duguid replied: “Technically, you could.

“That’s the beauty of oil, you can actually store it – gas is more complicated to store.

“Better to have the oil and gas there and to not need it than to need it then have to import it.

“I would much prefer to satisfy our ongoing yet reducing demand for oil and gas in this country with domestic sources than import that oil and gas from countries where we can’t be assured of the responsibility in how it was extracted.”

Ahead of the Tuesday meeting, Mr Duguid said he was “eager to learn more” about the 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.”

Last week, Nicola Sturgeon made her first public intervention on the issue, calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “reassess” licences already granted, including for Cambo.

The First Minister said in a letter: “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.”

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