Plans for Cambo oil field on hold for now…

Last week Shell announced they were to withdraw from Cambo proposals due to supposed issues around the economic justification of the project. Today, another key partner, Siccar Point Energy, announced it would also be pulling out from the project, which sits approximately 125km northwest of the Shetland Isles.

It comes as a major boost for environmental campaigners who have been protesting the site, which contains an estimated 800 million barrels.

However, the plans have only been shelved, they have not been scrapped. Jonathan Roger, Chief executive officer of the project, said: “We are pausing the development while we evaluate next steps… We continue to believe Cambo is a robust project that can play an important part of the UK’s energy security, providing homegrown energy supply and reducing carbon intensive imports, whilst supporting a just transition.”

Just as we saw at COP26, both the UK and Scottish Government are attempting to greenwash their efforts to achieve Net-Zero. This oil field cannot go ahead, and it is all well and good for Nicola Sturgeon and others to say it should not get the green light whilst refusing to halt the plans when they have the power to do so.

Roger is right in one thing though – the UK Government has to step up its plans for a just transition. But these plans cannot include projects like Cambo. Even disregarding the carbon output of the near billion barrels of oil, the potential for a catastrophe is too great. It was only in September that we saw yet another large oil scale in the Gulf of Mexico pouring oil into our oceans… again.

We need large scale investment in real green jobs, and green energy to support energy workers out of carbon intensive industries. The idea that we can somehow achieve Net-Zero in the next thirty years while continuing to expand oil extraction in this country is absurd. Unless our governments face up to the reality of this situation we are going to end up in an energy crisis. Not only this, we are going to end up in a jobs crisis, and communities in the North East of Scotland and around the country are going to be the ones that take the hit.

Gary Smith, General Secretary of the GMB, said: “It’s meant to be a transition to a low carbon economy, not a surrender of the national interest. The cheerleaders for Cambo’s shutdown aren’t just throwing energy workers under the bus, but also our security of supply for the gas we will still need on the road to 2050.” Smith is right to defend his members and is a principled trade unionist that I respect. But he’s wrong to point the finger at environmental campaigners.

We cannot put this crisis on hold, and we need to commit to reduce our oil and gas usage immediately. It is not environmentalists who Smith should be pointing the finger at, but the Government who have refused to support workers time and time again. We cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into this divide and conquer tactics which only favours a corporate elite which cares for neither of us.

It’s time for environmentalists and trade union leaders to seriously work together as a united front. Not just for COP26 photo opportunities, but for real change which will guarantee workers are supported throughout this transition. Without this unity, we are doomed.

Peter Stoddart, is a member of the YCL’s Glasgow branch

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