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Inside look at timeline of Cambo oil field row as Shell pulls out of project

THE Cambo oil field has become a prominent feature of news headlines over the past six months as politicians and activists became embroiled in a row over whether or not it should go ahead.

The issue gained more heat in the summer months after an IPCC report warned of a “code red for humanity” if drastic measures aren’t taken to combat global temperature rises.

One of the main recommendations in the report was to move away from oil and gas in a bid to keep temperatures under 1.5C.

With the announcement that Shell has pulled funding from the project, the oil field has become one of the key battle lines of the climate crisis in the UK and Scotland, so how did we get here?

READ MORE: Jacob Rees-Mogg warned as poll shows 55% of Scots want independence

June 2021

At the end of June into the beginning of July, news began to emerge that the UK was set to sign off on a new oil field 125km north-west of Shetland. It was first discovered in 2002 and believed to contain over 800 million barrels of oil. Production was due to begin in 2022, dependent on being granted a license by the Oil and Gas Authority.

July 6 2021

Environmental activists brought the issue of the Cambo oil field to the public’s attention through a petition calling on the UK Government to stop it going ahead. They raised concerns that in the first phase of the project developers want to extract 150 million barrels of oil – the emissions from which are equivalent to running a coal power station for 16 years.

July 8 2021

The Scottish Greens weighed into the debate early on, and called the UK Government an “embarrassment” for pushing ahead with the project during a climate crisis. They later called for the license to be revoked.

July 19 2021

Taking the issue right to the UK Government’s door, activists targetted their Edinburgh hub with a sit-in, blocking the main entrance. A total of 12 activists made it inside Queen Elizabeth House, with 10 fellow protestors blocking the main door whilst brandishing “Stop Cambo” placards.

READ MORE: Fort William and Ardnamurchan by-election: SNP secure seat

July 22 2021

The Scottish Greens warn Cambo will affect climate targets saying it is “incompatible”.

August 5 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally waded into the debate in August by claiming that he hadn’t heard of the Cambo oil field. The same day, activists delivered a petition calling for the UK Government project into Downing Street. The petition was signed by 80,000 people.

August 7 2021 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was pulled into the debate around Cambo when she was confronted by climate activists at the Govanhill Carnival who asked why the Scottish Government weren’t opposing the development. Sturgeon said that it wasn’t an issue for the Scottish Government but said she would “properly consider” the issues.

The National:

Nicola Sturgeon was confronted by activists over the oil field

August 9 2021

The United Nations released the IPCC report which called for movement away from fossil fuels to keep global temperatures at safe levels. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the report signalled a “code red for humanity”.

August 12 2021

Nicola Sturgeon writes a letter to Boris Johnson asking him to “reassess” the license for the Cambo oil field.

August 24 2021

The Prime Minister comes under fire and is urged to explain drilling preparations made by the firms behind the Cambo oil field despite the license being granted. The equipment didn’t make it out to the field after Greenpeace intervened.

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: Omicron cases rise to 29, Nicola Sturgeon says

September 1 2021

Greenpeace again caught the UK Government out over Cambo, this time calling them out for ‘misleading’ the public by claiming they have no power to intervene in whether or not the license is given the go ahead.

October 14 2021

Youth activists confronted Shell’s CEO during a Ted Talk conference in Edinburgh calling him “the most evil man in the world”. The campaigners walked off the stage, refusing to share a platform with CEO Ben van Beurden, having previously raised concerns that he was being given a platform at a conference discussing the climate crisis ahead of COP26.

The National:

November 1-12 2021

For two weeks COP26 became the main focus of headlines and completely transformed Glasgow, with thousands taking to the streets to call for faster, urgent change to battle global temperatures. One issue was brought up over and over again – Cambo. With the ‘Queen’ turning off the oil tap in Buchanan Street, Friends of the Earth Scotland setting up barrels outside the UK Government’s hub and fervent calls to move away from oil and gas dominating the conference.

November 26 2021

The First Minister tells MSPs she doesn’t think Cambo should be given the “greenlight” as it wouldn’t pass climate assessments. It was the first time Sturgeon had publicly spoken out against the project.

December 2 2021

Dutch Shell announces it is pulling out of its 30% investment in Cambo, with campaigners heralding the news as a “death knell” for the project and others saying it could signal the end of Scotland’s age of dependence on oil and gas. 



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