Photo: Just Stop Oil coalition

Activists target UK govt in protest against Shell’s Jackdaw project

Activists from several environmental organisations have staged protests in the UK in response to the government’s approval of Shell’s Jackdaw gas project located in the UK North Sea.

 Just Stop Oil coalition
Source: Just Stop Oil coalition

On Thursday afternoon, nine young supporters of the Just Stop Oil coalition threw red paint over the Queen Elizabeth Building in Edinburgh, demanding that the government protect the ‘liveable planet’ and halt all new oil and gas licences and consents.

All nine are expected to be arrested for criminal damage, the organisation said in its statement. The action follows a rally attended by Stop Cambo, Extinction Rebellion, and others calling for No New Oil and Gas, in response to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng approving Shell’s Jackdaw North Sea gas field earlier this week.

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As previously reported, the project was rejected last year by the UK authorities on the grounds that “the project will have a significant effect on the environment, resulting from atmospheric emissions, that cannot be avoided, prevented, reduced or offset by attaching conditions to the agreement to the grant of consent.”

However, following revisions to the plan and the government’s review of those revisions, the project was approved this week.

Another rally in opposition to the Jackdaw was expected to take place outside the BEIS Offices, Victoria St, Westminister on Thursday evening. The nine young people who took part in the Edinburgh action have stated that being arrested will not deter them from taking part in future acts of peaceful Civil Resistance.

Following the approval of the Jackdaw project, the Stop Cambo organisation commented: “This government needs to come up with a proper plan for energy. A new gas field that won’t start producing any gas for another three years, and which will be sold to us at market price, solves nothing. We need to fight Jackdaw so that this government is forced to look to real solutions that genuinely help the British people.”

‘Windfall tax loophole’

The UK government last week proposed to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas producers and, in light of this, the environmental groups believe that the UK taxpayers are set to lose out on over £200 million in windfall tax due to the government’s approval of Jackdaw. This, Stop Cambo says, is according to an analysis of Rystad Energy data by the campaign group Uplift. The Jackdaw gas field, however, will not lead to lower energy bills and will do next to nothing for UK energy security, Stop Cambo said.

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The organisation noted that the Chancellor’s windfall tax included a deliberate loophole for oil and gas companies that invest in the North Sea, which means that whatever a company spends opening up a new North Sea field, almost as much will be discounted from their windfall tax bill.

Stop Cambo says that this subsidy means that Shell will pay £210 million less in windfall tax. As a result of this shortfall, the public purse is going to have to cover the recently announced £400 energy bill discount for half a million UK households, the organisation said.

The group emphasised that Jackdaw’s gas reserves will not, however, lead to lower energy bills and will do next to nothing for UK energy security as the project’s gas is only enough to meet around 1- 2 per cent of UK gas demand on average over its short lifetime.

The Jackdaw field is an ultra-high pressure / high temperature (uHP/HT) gas condensate field, located in the Central North Sea, approximately 250 km east of Aberdeen and 30 km southeast of the Shearwater platform and adjacent to the UK/Norwegian median line. The proposed project involves developing the field via a new wellhead platform (WHP).

The proposal is to develop the field which will consist of four production wells drilled at the Jackdaw WHP using a heavy-duty jack-up rig. Jackdaw fluids will be commingled at the WHP and exported to the Shearwater platform via a new 31 km 12” nominal bore pipeline to the existing Shearwater platform, where the fluids will be processed with gas exported via the Fulmar Gas Line and condensate exported via the Forties Pipeline System.

The WHP will be operated as a not permanently attended installation with control, monitoring, and shutdown and operational support provided by the Shearwater host.

Meanwhile, operators of two of the largest undeveloped discoveries in the UKCambo and Rosebank – are working to bring them towards the final investment decision as both projects have recently received licence extensions from the UK authorities.

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It is worth reminding that Siccar Point, the operator of Cambo, is being taken over by Ithaca Energy, which is in turn owned by Israeli Delek Group. Late last year, Shell, as a partner in Cambo, decided not to progress the investment in the project. However, following the licence extension, Shell said this would allow time to evaluate all potential future options for the project.

The Cambo field is anticipated to deliver up to 170 million barrels of oil equivalent during its 25-year operational life and would also provide a further 53.5 billion cubic feet of gas while the potentially recoverable volumes at Rosebank are expected to be more than 300 million barrels.