Sky News’ Sophy Ridge questioned the Labour Party’s own record on supporting the further development of the Cambo oil fields to produce more domestic oil and gas. Boris Johnson last month hinted at plans to invest more in extracting domestically to free the UK from foreign gas and to look for cheaper alternatives in light of the ongoing cost of living crisis. Jonathan Reynolds said insisted that extraction in the North Sea should continue in the short term.
The Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday presenter challenged him on his party’s previous stance.
Ms Ridge said: “Something that could have an impact on the short-term is looking at the supply of oil and gas as well.
“Was it the right decision by the North Sea Transition Agency to look at this two-year extension to Cambo oil field licence?”
The Labour frontbencher said: “Domestic gas and oil from the North Sea is half our domestic supply at the minute, and that should continue.
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“No one questions that strategy. The longer-term extraction picture for all fossil fuels around the world has to be governed by…”
But Ms Ridge intervened to point out: “You say that but at the same time Labour has previously opposed the development of the Cambo oil field.
“And you’re talking about a windfall tax in the North Sea as well.
“If you were looking at this, you might think Labour actually isn’t that happy about the idea of using oil and gas in the short term.”
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This week the UK granted the Cambo oil field a licence extension for developing the area, which lies to the west of Shetland.
Shell, which co-owns the field with Siccar Point energy, withdrew from the development in December and it stressed there is “no change to our position”.
But a spokeswoman for the company said the extension gives time to “evaluate all potential future options”.
She said: “The North Sea Transition Authority has awarded Siccar Point Energy and Shell UK an extension to the underlying licences containing the Cambo field which were due to expire.
“At this time there is no change to our position of December 2021, but the extension to the licences will allow time to evaluate all potential future options for the project.”
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Shell said in December it had concluded the economic case for investment was “not strong enough”.
The decision came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon questioned the plans for the development, saying: “I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light.”
Fears over the future of Russian oil have since sent prices soaring at the same time as consumers in the UK are facing rocketing energy bills.
Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth Scotland argue the two-year licence extension is “simply dragging out the inevitable rejection of Cambo”.
The group’s Caroline Rance said: “The UK Government is trying to keep this doomed oil field on life support but they are simply dragging out the inevitable rejection of Cambo and the transition away from fossil fuels.
“There is no safe future for new oil and gas production in the North Sea, Cambo and all-new field developments must be rejected.