The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been criticised by environmental campaigners for a “short-sighted” approach to future economic growth in the energy sector, after it gave consent to a £4.6 billion oil development in the North Sea.
Statoil has been granted permission to begin drilling at the Mariner oil field, with the government providing tax breaks in order to help it produce its target of 55,000 barrels of oil a day.
Energy secretary Ed Davey called North Sea oil and gas “a vital asset”, adding that Statoil was providing the sector with a “vote of confidence” through the multi-billion pound project.
But the plans have been criticised by environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, which says that a focus on oil and gas is not sustainable in the long-term.
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“Government tax breaks should be used to develop the UK’s huge clean energy potential, not pump more climate-changing oil out of the ground”, said economics campaigner David Powell.
“Yet again, George Osborne’s short-sighted fossil-fuelled economic strategy completely undermines efforts to build a low-carbon future and the thousands of jobs it will create.
“The government should concentrate on developing clean alternatives and leaving fossil fuels where they belong – in the ground.”
Details of the Statoil project were confirmed at the back end of last week, before International Petroleum Week began in London yesterday. The event, which runs under the slogan, “Investing in tomorrow’s opportunities”, is run by the Energy Institute over three days.
One topic it will cover is technology and future exploration, asking, “Are [petroleum] producers too slow to adapt or is the financial risk of no return just too high?”
Investment into clean, renewable energy now outstrips fossil fuel investments, though the latter remains the dominant player in the global energy mix.