The Cambo oil field – located to the west of the Shetland Islands in Scotland – has had new investment of £1.125bn ($1.47bn) after being acquired by Canadian company Ithaca Energy on 8 April, 2022. The oil and gas field was subject to some controversy in 2021 following the UN climate event, COP26. Protests – from climate campaigners, the UK’s Labour Party and the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon – saw previous investor Shell pull out of plans to develop the site.
Speaking in the Scottish parliament in November 2021, Sturgeon said: “I don’t think we can continue to give the go-ahead to new oil fields, so I don’t think Cambo should get the green light.”
Despite Sturgeon’s comments, in the wake of the Ukraine invasion and sanctions being placed on Russian oil, there had been whispers that Shell was reconsidering its plans to pull out of Cambo in late March. And while Ithaca now holds the controlling 70% of the oil field, Shell still holds the remaining 30%. It remains to be seen what Shell’s future involvement in Cambo will be, now that Ithaca – which also holds a 20% stake in nearby Rosebank oil field – has announced plans to develop both oil fields.
The public’s distaste for the development of Cambo has not changed in 2022, but what has changed dramatically is oil prices. With waters approximately 1km deep, Cambo has an estimated 170 million barrels of exploitable oil, and is expected to be able to produce for 25 years.
In a press release announcing the deal, Alan Bruce, Ithaca’s chief executive, said: “The development of the Cambo and Rosebank fields is a huge opportunity to not only help secure the UK’s energy future for at least another quarter of a century, but also to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the process,” he added.
The deal came just nine days after the oil field was granted a two-year extension by the North Sea Transition Authority, which allows for exploration of the Cambo seabed. The extension met with a public backlash, to which the UK government responded that the development is “a commercial decision for the companies involved and is not a matter for the government to comment on”.