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‘Very frustrating and disappointing’: New Oil and Gas field to open off coast of Aberdeen

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

The project received harsh criticisms due to its environmental impact

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

"Oil Platform" by Damian Gadal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Plans for the development of the so-called Abigail energy field were approved by the UK government’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) last month, on 19 January.

Located about 145 miles off the Buchan coast in the North Sea, the Abigail field will be developed by Ithaca Energy, an Israeli owned company based out of Aberdeen.

The announcement of the field’s approval drew sharp criticism from both climate activists and members of the University community.

Speaking to the Gaudie, Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Politics at the University, stated his disapproval:

‘'The UK Government needs to be focusing on promoting renewable energy rather than oil and gas… There needs to be a rapid roll out of the very cheap green energy options that we have, with lots more onshore and offshore wind, solar farms… and various other things, none of which are being treated very seriously at the moment.’

‘Green energy is good for energy security as well as the environment… in that it is implemented at much lower costs than fossil fuels and in contrast to oil and gas which is sold to the highest bidder around the world at inflated current prices.’

Erik Dalhuijsen, the Director of Aberdeen Climate Action also pushed back on the government’s approval of the field, telling the Gaudie:

‘The direction of necessary travel is clear: the whole world need[s] to get off of fossil fuel use, quickly. Since this is a global issue, that means getting rid of most fossil fuel production too, quickly.’

Regarding the UK government’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, he added:

‘The relationship to the Paris goals is pretty clearcut: as stated by the IEA (international energy agency) and many other reputable organisations there is no room for new licences.’

The University declined to comment on this story, despite their pledge to divest from fossil fuels and support renewable forms of energy as part of their Aberdeen 2040 campaign.

However, AUSA VP for Communities Camilio Torres-Barragan strongly opposed the OGA’s approval, stating to The Gaudie:

‘Our students and student-led groups are putting impressive efforts into lobbying the University to make more sustainable decisions, as well as making their own lives more sustainable. It’s very frustrating and disappointing that the government is going in the opposite direction and not listening to young people who will be facing the consequences of these decisions.’

The decision to approve the plans for the field came just months after the COP26 Conference in Glasgow, in which the need for countries to cut carbon emissions in order to avoid a rise in global temperature was highlighted.

Indeed, such actions have only served to deepen tensions between climate activists and the UK government, including those in Aberdeen.


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