Energy crisis lifeline: UK launches North Sea gas field to end Russia reliance

Eddie Mair puts Labour MP on spot over energy plan

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine called global energy security in question, as countries had to begin considering what they would do without access to Russian gas supplies. The EU in particular is heavily reliant on Russian gas supplies and imported 40 percent of its needs in 2021. In an effort to boost the UK’s energy security, the Government has granted the final regulatory approval for Shell’s North Sea Jackdaw gas field.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Jackdaw gas field – originally licensed in 1970 – has today received final regulatory approval.

“We’re turbocharging renewables and nuclear, but we are also realistic about our energy needs now.

“Let’s source more of the gas we need from British waters to protect energy security.”

UK-based energy firm Shell welcomed the decision, adding that it plans to move forward with the field’s development.

The energy company also claimed that the Jackdaw gas field could potentially produce 6.5 percent of Britain’s gas output “at a time when UK energy security is critically required”.

A Shell spokesperson said: “Responsibly produced, local gas production plays an essential role in the UK’s transition to net zero, will support thousands of jobs, and forms part of Shell UK’s broader intent to invest £20bn to £25bn in the UK, with 75% intended for low and zero-carbon products and services.

“However, as we have repeatedly stated, this can only happen with a stable fiscal policy and we continue to look to the government for those assurances.”

The UK had previously rejected proposed plans for the gas field in October last year on environmental grounds, just at the COP26 summit was about to take place.

However, Shell moved forward by submitting an updated proposal to the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning in March.

Under the new plans, Shell will change the way the natural gas extracted will be processed at the interconnected Shearwater hub near the gas field.

Instead of removing the naturally occurring carbon dioxide produced by the gas offshore, the company will transport some of it to the St Fergus terminal to be treated onshore.

Shell believes that the gas field has energy reserves of between 120 million and 250 million barrels of oil equivalent, which the firm will begin to extract in the second half of 2025

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However, the gas field could still face legal hurdles, as environmental group Greenpeace noted that the permit approval could be unlawful.

Ami McCarthy, a political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Approving Jackdaw is a desperate and destructive decision from Johnson’s government, and proves there’s no long-term plan.

“They could immediately shave billions off bills, get a grip on UK energy demand, create thousands of jobs, boost our economy, tackle the climate crisis and avoid future crises – if they just upgrade homes to be warmer and greener, and invest in clean and cheap renewable power.”.

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