Photo: Shearwater; Source: Shell

Shell sanctions Jackdaw gas project in North Sea

Oil major Shell has taken the final investment decision (FID) to develop the Jackdaw gas field in the UK North Sea, following regulatory approval earlier this year. However, the decision has already been met with strong opposition from environmental groups, seeking to stop its development.

The Jackdaw field is located approximately 250 km east of Aberdeen, Scotland, and is adjacent to the UK/Norway median line. The project will comprise a wellhead platform that is not permanently attended, along with subsea infrastructure, which will tie back to Shell’s existing Shearwater gas hub.

Following the rejection of Shell’s environmental statement for the Jackdaw field development in October last year, Shell in March 2022 released an amended ES for the project. By early June, the authorities approved the project much to the dismay of environmental groups who staged protests demanding a halt to all new oil and gas licences and consents.

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Now that the project has been sanctioned, Shell said it is expected to come online in the mid-2020s, and at peak production rates, could represent over 6 per cent of projected UK North Sea gas production in the middle of this decade, with operational emissions of less than 1 per cent of the whole UK basin. That is enough energy to heat 1.4 million homes. Peak production from the field is estimated at 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

However, according to a Tuesday report by BBC, Greenpeace has now lodged a legal challenge over consent being given to develop the Jackdaw field, believing that in granting consent, the UK government failed to consider emissions from burning the gas.

Greenpeace says it is taking the government to court “because they approved Jackdaw without checking the full impacts it would have on the climate. By refusing to consider a majority of the emissions from Jackdaw, the government is sending us further down the path towards irreversible global warming. That means more extreme weather events like the heatwave we just experienced here in the UK and the heatwaves, floods and droughts that have continued to cause death and destruction globally.”

Shell Upstream Director, Zoe Yujnovich, said: “Investments like Jackdaw are consistent with the UK’s North Sea Transition Deal and Shell’s Powering Progress strategy, providing the energy people need today while serving as the foundation for investments in the low carbon energy system of the future.”

Jackdaw is part of Shell U.K.’s broader intent to invest £20 to £25 billion in the UK energy system in the next decade, with the aim of investing 75 per cent in the development of low and zero-carbon products and services. Hundreds of millions of pounds are expected to be spent in the UK supply chain during Jackdaw’s construction.

According to Shell, projects like Jackdaw will help ensure the overall decline in UK North Sea production is gradual rather than too steep, matching a gradual drop in hydrocarbon demand as the energy transition takes place. Gas from the Jackdaw field will come ashore at St Fergus, where Shell is involved in the development of the Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage project, which could sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial clusters in Scotland, the UK and northern Europe. The Acorn project could also reform natural gas into low-carbon hydrogen, by capturing and storing CO2.