Greenpeace loses North Sea Vorlich field legal challenge

Posted: October 7, 2021 by oldbrew in climate, Energy, Legal, News

North Sea oil platform [image credit:]

Shouting ‘climate’ in court doesn’t guarantee legal victories. Appeal to the Supreme Court pending.
– – –
Environmental group Greenpeace has lost its case against the UK government over a North Sea oil field permit, reports BBC News.

Permission to drill the Vorlich site off Aberdeen was given to BP in 2018.

Greenpeace argued in Scotland’s highest civil court there had been “a myriad of failures in the public consultation” and the permit did not consider the climate impacts of burning fossil fuel.

The Court of Session ruling means operations will continue at the field. Greenpeace plans to appeal.

The UK government welcomed the outcome.

It follows a two-day hearing into the case last month.

Production from the development started in November after BP was granted approval by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) in 2018.

Greenpeace said it was the first time an offshore oil permit had ever been challenged in court and that if it had won, the case would have had huge ramifications for other sites, such as the planned Cambo field off Shetland.

Ruth Crawford QC for Greenpeace said UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had been “deprived” of information about the environmental impact of the development.

Ms Crawford said Greenpeace wanted proper public participation in important developments such as the Vorlich oilfield.

Roddy Dunlop QC, representing the UK government, said the challenges advanced by Greenpeace were “largely procedural and opportunistic”.

Jim Cormack, representing oil firms BP and Ithaca, had previously told hearing that the challenge was “highly significant” and if the original decision was overturned, production from the field would have to stop until new consent could be obtained.

‘Ongoing demand’

He said the works for which consent was granted had been implemented by BP and Ithaca at a cost of about £230m and the project was fully operational and in the production phase.

Full report here.

  1. Ron Clutz says:

    Thanks for posting on this and for the link to the ruling itself. I extracted the significant bits of the judgement on the merits re Greenpeace’s argument for disallowing the project on grounds of climate damage from end user burning of energy products. A key quote from the court:

    “[64] The question is whether the consumption of oil and gas by the end user, once the oil and gas have been extracted from the wells, transported, refined and sold to consumers, and then used by them are “direct or indirect significant effects of the relevant project”. The answer is that it is not. The exercise which the applicant had to carry out, and the Secretary of State had to assess, was a determination of the significant effects of drilling the two wells and removing the oil and gas. That involved considering the effects of depositing and operating an exploration rig or rigs on site. The ultimate use of a finished product is not a direct or indirect significant effect of the project. It is that effect alone which, in terms of the Regulations, must be assessed.”

    More at

  2. oldbrew says:

    the permit did not consider the climate impacts of burning fossil fuel

    The alleged but unproven ‘impacts’. Nobody knows if there’s any ‘impact’ on the global climate from a CO2 increase from 0.03% to 0.04% in the atmosphere, however caused. Looking at those numbers, what are the chances?
    – – –
    Why isn’t Greenpeace challenging biomass in the courts?

    Guardian: Biomass is promoted as a carbon neutral fuel. But is burning wood a step in the wrong direction?

    It can take as much as a century for trees to grow enough to offset the carbon released.

    Burning wood for energy is also inefficient – biomass has been found to release more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than coal or gas, according to a 2018 study and an open letter to the EU signed by nearly 800 scientists.

    ‘as much as a century’ — but there’s a climate emergency according to climate obsessives. Does not compute!

  3. Phoenix44 says:

    The climate impact of burning the oil from that one field is literally zero. It is absurd for Greenpeace to claim otherwise. It is barely possible to see any impact from a century or more of burning oil and gas from hundreds of fields. They really are stupid.

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