The Rosebank oil field

Future emissions from the Equinor Rosebank oil field are dangerously high  

It is estimated that Rosebank contains a total of nearly 500 million barrels of oil and gas, which would emit over 200 million tons of CO2 if burned. Let’s put this number into perspective; it is more than the combined annual emissions from the 28 lowest income countries in the world, including Uganda, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. The estimated climate pollution from Equinor’s Rosebank oil field alone would therefore surpass the total annual pollution of 700 million people. 

British climate ambitions are shot if Rosebank gets developed 

Numbers do not lie, and emissions just from extracting the oil and gas at Rosebank  would blow past UK climate targets. Rosebank increases the emissions overshoots beyond the industry's 2040 and 2050 targets to the point that the sector would have to increase their emissions reductions plans more than 10 times over to meet these targets.  90% of the Rosebank oil and gas field consists of oil reserves, which is likely to be exported, leaving the remaining 10% to be gas reserves. 

The Rosebank oil field to supply Equinor with massive tax breaks   

Thanks to the UK’s generous tax system for oil and gas, the government will give tax breaks  estimated to be roughly £3 billion ($3.8 billion) to Rosebank’s owners for developing the oil and gas field. Campaign group Uplift explains that therefore, the UK public would carry almost all the costs (91%) of developing Rosebank. Overall, the UK government can expect a net loss of more than £750 million ($910 million) over the life of the field. This potential loss comes from the gap between the generous tax breaks being handed to Rosebank’s developers to kick start the project and the predicted tax payments from the profits of selling Rosebank’s reserves. 

Equinor hides behind ambitions to electrify the Rosebank oil field 

Equinor’s pledges to reduce the climate harm from Rosebank are deceptive, as they focus solely on the production emissions from extracting oil and gas, not from the burning and use of oil and gas (scope 3 emissions). Equinor has ambitions to electrify the Rosebank oil field, but concedes that will not be possible before 2030 at the earliest. Electrification means using electricity rather than gas to extract the oil out of the ground, aiming to reduce the CO2 emissions of the process of drilling for oil and gas, and is one of Equinor’s major arguments for why the Rosebank project is a sustainable project. Electrification is an example of a so-called ‘low-carbon solution’, which is meant to limit production emissions while continuing to produce fossil fuels. Equinor uses low-carbon to argue for their transition plan and gain credibility for their shift towards clean, green energy. In reality, in the UK government's official approval of the Rosebank field, they state that there is “uncertainty and lack of adequate details about the future electrification works”.   

Employment and local economic impact

As for employment, Equinor estimates that 1600 jobs will be created because of Rosebank. However, a big portion of this number results from temporary positions in the peak construction period. In addition, most of Rosebank’s oil will likely be exported, meaning that oil production on Rosebank will do nothing to boost UK energy security or lower the high petrol prices and energy bills that Brits are currently experiencing, which is a narrative portrayed by the oil and gas industry and the UK government. Instead the UK government is using public money to give Equinor a major tax break for developing the oil field. Equinor, as one of Rosebank’s owners, will profit, while both the climate and British public suffer.  

Stop Rosebank to save nature and biodiversity

Drilling and potential oil spills present a great risk to dolphins, whales and fish in the British North Sea, and the Rosebank development includes a gas pipeline which will cut through  the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt Marine Protected Area, and could potentially harm its fragile ecosystems, home to habitats and marine species that exist nowhere else in UK waters. Since Rosebank is situated next to this marine protected area, the threats to biodiversity cannot be underestimated. Seismic blasting, drilling, and construction in the area near Rosebank will disturb endangered species of dolphins, whales and fish – potentially changing behavioural, migrational and living patterns. Climate change is already creating irreversible damage to our endangered ecosystems. We need to be doing what we can to protect them – the last thing we need is more oil fields and more pipelines.

Local resistance to stopping Rosebank Equinor 

After the Stop Rosebank campaign was launched in September 2022, it has secured significant support across the political spectrum in the UK. Additionally there are legal efforts to overturn the government’s decision to allow the development of Rosebank. Therefore it is imperative that we continue to push Equinor and the British government to stop the Rosebank oil field.