WATCH: Shetlanders send a message in a bottle urging ‘sibling across the sea’ to stop massive oil & gas project

WATCH: Shetlanders send a message in a bottle urging ‘sibling across the sea’ to stop massive oil & gas project

A group of people – said to be Shetlanders – have made a short film, which shows them sending a message in a bottle to Norway to ask the neighbouring country to put an end to the development of a giant oil field off the coast of Shetland in Scotland and spearhead the transition to clean energy.

Petrojarl Knarr FPSO; Source: Teekay

The huge oil and gas field that the group of activists, who are believed to be Shetlanders, in this video – published on Friday, 20 January 2023 – want to stop from being developed is the Rosebank field, which lies 80 miles off the Shetland coast and would be operated by Norway’s state-owned energy company, Equinor.

The short film is titled Dear Norway and activists in Shetland have used it to call on Norway, their “sibling across the sea,” to “do the right thing and leave the oil in the ground.” While there are historical and cultural ties between the Shetland Islands and Norway, the activists highlight that there is also an “uncomfortable truth that binds us together: fossil fuels.”

Therefore, Norway is asked to instead “lead the transformation” away from oil and gas, as “together, we can supply clean energy across Europe,” underscore the activists in this video. The Rosebank oil and gas field is estimated to contain 300 million bbl of potentially recoverable reserves. This is one of the previously delayed energy projects, which is currently facing additional obstacles that may hinder its progress and delay the sanctioning yet again. 

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The environmental activists, who have urged the UK government to put an end to plans to develop the Rosebank oil field on climate grounds, claim that not only is Rosebank “a disaster for the climate, it could also have a disastrous effect on the marine life around the Shetland Islands.”

The activists justify their views by saying that this project would involve Equinor installing a pipeline through a protected area off the Shetland coast – the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt – impacting its “fragile ecosystem and affecting rare marine creatures, such as deep sea sponges and quahogs, an incredibly long-living type of clam. Norway and Equinor must listen to these voices from Shetland and stop this field.”

The activists’ Dear Norway short film comes after MPs from the Liberal DemocratsLabourGreen Party and the Scottish Green Party have come out against Rosebank. At the end of last year, the government went back to Equinor, with more questions about their application for Rosebank and right before Christmas, Equinor submitted its response. This means the government’s decision on Rosebank could be published any day.

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“Equinor, Rosebank’s owner, cares hugely about its reputation, investing heavily in advertising to present themselves to the people of Norway as a responsible energy company committed to net zero. In reality, they are relentlessly focused on developing new oil and gas fields,” according to activists in the #StopRosebank movement.

Furthermore, activists believe that if they make enough noise, they can stop Rosebank, as “following campaign pressure from the #StopWisting coalition, Equinor announced in November that it would postpone an investment decision on the Wisting oil field in Norway until at least 2026.”

Bearing in mind the current obstacles, Offshore Energy reached out to Equinor last month to seek more information about the potential impact of these issues on the firm’s plans. In response, a spokesperson for the Norwegian state-owned energy giant confirmed there was “no change to the Rosebank project,” adding that the final investment decision (FID) was still planned “in Q3 2023.”

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The development cost for this project is estimated at £4.1 billion, plus a further £3.6 billion in operating expenses. According to Equinor, the reuse of the Petrojarl Knarr FPSO, which recently worked for Shell on the Knarr field in the North Sea off Norway, as opposed to building a new one, will avoid 250 thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Earlier this month, Altera Infrastructure handed out an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to Aker Solutions for the complete upgrade of the FPSO. The upgrade work, which will be performed in a joint venture with Drydocks World-Dubai, will take place at the latter’s yard in Dubai, UAE. On the other hand, the detailed design will be carried out in Norway by Aker Solutions in collaboration with Citec Norway, ABB Norway and OneSubsea Processing.

With a production capacity of 63,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, this FPSO has a storage capacity of 800,000 barrels. If sanctioned, the Rosebank project is expected to create £8.1 billion of direct investment – including the development, operation and decommissioning of the field – based on Equinor’s projections.