PLANS to restart drilling operations in an abandoned oil and gas field in the North Sea have been branded “disgraceful” by the Scottish Greens.

The Hutton field, which was in production during the 1980s and 1990s, was shut down by American company Conoco in 2001.

However, the Malaysian-owned Ping Petroleum company has acquired a licence containing the Hutton field in the North Sea during the UK Government’s latest controversial licencing round.

In a statement the company said it had intentions to revitalise the “historic Hutton field”.

It also announced that it had completed a deal to purchase the Pilot heavy oil find from Orcadian Energy, which is estimated to contain around 80 million barrels of oil.

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Climate and energy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, Mark Ruskell MSP, said the decision displayed a “greed over climate” mentality from oil companies.

“This is a disgraceful announcement and a slap in the face to future generations,” he said.

“Just weeks ago respected experts from the Climate Change Committee stood up and warned us that we are not doing enough to cut emissions.

“In what world do these companies think opening up old oil and gas fields and drilling for more fossils fuels is the answer? The naked truth is they don’t care.

“All they are interested in is more and more profit. Greed over climate and to Hell with everyone else.”

The National: Rishi Sunak has said his government wants to max out North Sea oil and gas reservesRishi Sunak has said his government wants to max out North Sea oil and gas reserves

Last year, the UK Government announced that it would allow oil and gas companies to bid for new licences to drill for fossil fuels in the North Sea every year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves despite protestations from climate campaigners and even some Tory MPs, who fear the move will wreck the government’s net zero commitments.

“The Scottish Greens are clear that there can be no new drilling if we are to reach net zero, that’s our consistent message within government,” added Ruskell.

“We need to look at what future action is needed to stop these cash hungry fossil fuel giants from prising open long abandoned fields.

“Without independence those powers lie at Westminster and it is utterly shameful that a UK Government continues to subsidise the destruction of our climate with the only benefits being felt by fossil fuel shareholders.

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“Under this Tory government fossil fuel firms, largely from overseas, are being allowed to start drilling for new oil at the same time as squeezing out every last drop from the old, and being given tax breaks to help them achieve it.

“New drilling has to be stopped. Talk of a just transition for the sector has to be accompanied by real, visible and urgent action, and the oil and gas industry has to stop its indiscriminate war on climate.

“I will be writing to Downing Street to demand that they review this decision against climate compatibility tests and call for them to reverse this licence if it fails on this grounds.”

It comes after the UK’s independent climate watchdog, the Climate Change Committee, found that Scotland’s goal of cutting harmful fossil fuel emissions by 75% by 2030 was now “beyond what is credible”.