THE change of ownership of the controversial Cambo oil field “doesn’t change the facts” about its climate change impact or soaring energy bills, environmental activists have said.

It was announced on Thursday that Ithaca Energy has taken over the controlling 70% stake in the crude oil field, located off the north-west coast of Shetland, in a $1.5 billion (£1.125bn) deal.

Previously, Siccar Point Energy, a firm based in Aberdeen, had a 70% stake in the project, while Shell had a 30% stake.

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However, the oil giant pulled out of the project after a great deal of public pressure, including from activists during COP26, where it became one of the main talking points. Siccar Point later paused the development.

It led to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking out against the proposals after numerous United Nations IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] reports have warned that the world must move away from fossil fuel dependency to keep global temperatures down.

It comes just a day after the UK Government released its British Energy Security Strategy - part of a bid to reduce reliance on international oil and gas and reportedly reduce bills for consumers.

The National: Activists at COP26 where Cambo was a major talking pointActivists at COP26 where Cambo was a major talking point

However, the plan also pushed for more nuclear power and further expansion of fossil fuel projects in the north sea - something which was roundly rejected by campaigners.

And now, the latest developments in the North Sea have also come under criticism from climate change activists.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Caroline Rance said: “It doesn’t matter which profiteering fossil fuel company has their name on the Cambo licence, it doesn’t change the facts about this doomed oil field. Exploiting Cambo will do nothing for soaring energy bills but it will further risk our collective safety by worsening climate change.

“The new owners of Cambo will be desperate to profit from their billion pound gamble meaning that they will be hellbent on selling any oil they might extract to the highest international bidder. Ithaca would take the profits but the public would bear the risk.”

Climate and Energy Campaigner Rance added that the claim that increasing domestic oil and gas production will help consumers is “simply false”.

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She added: “Opening new oil fields like Cambo and Rosebank would further lock us into a broken fossil fuel energy system that is already unaffordable for millions of households in the UK and is driving the climate emergency.”

Before the Cambo project was paused, there were various concerns raised about the enviornmental impact of going ahead with production.

It’s estimated that there are around 800 millions of barrels of oil in the field, and it has been referred to as one of the “largest undeveloped fields on the UK continental shelf”.

If the Cambo field manages to reach its 51,000 boe/day (barrels of oil equivalent per day) as it intends to, it would make it the fifth biggest producer on the UK Continental shelf. The climate impact from burning all 800m barrels would roughly be the equivalent of 10 times Scotland’s annual emissions.

The National:

Tessa Khan (above), director of Uplift who organised the Stop Cambo campaign, said: "Cambo’s oil passing from one set of investors to another makes no difference: it is still in private hands and will be sold to the highest bidder, with most of the oil going abroad. 80% of the UK’s oil is exported.

“This isn’t our oil. It won’t lower our bills. All that's changed is that a different set of investors will get rich.”

Khan added that allowing Ithaca to profit from Cambo should “concern the UK public”.

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She said: "For the sake of the millions that now can’t afford their energy bills and the billions now experiencing the impacts of our changing climate, the UK government must reject Cambo and rewrite its energy strategy without oil and gas companies’ input.”

A Scottish Greens spokesperson: “Earlier this week the UN warned that we’re facing a now or never moment to tackle the climate emergency. Incredibly, Boris Johnson’s answer is to approve a new licensing round for oil and gas in his energy strategy.

“At a time when we should be exploiting Scotland's massive renewable energy potential, doubling down on oil and gas, whether at Cambo or in the North Sea, is unforgivable."