Shetlanders send 'message in a bottle' protest against oil field

New film 'Dear Norway' produced in bid to stop oil field in North Sea.

Shetlanders plead with Norway to stop controversial Rosebank oil field in new short film iStock

Shetlanders have launched a campaign to halt the proposed development of a controversial oil field 80 miles off their coast.

Rosebank could produce more than 70,000 barrels of oil every day at its peak under proposals by Norwegian state-controlled company Equinor being considered by the UK Government.

Equinor expects a final investment decision to be made in 2023, with the first oil expected in late 2026.

But charity Friends of the Earth said the project would involve Equinor installing a pipeline through a protected area off the Shetland coast – the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt – impacting its fragile ecosystem.

A short film by the campaigners in Shetland – described as a “message in a bottle” entitled ‘Dear Norway’ – urges their “sibling across the sea” to “do the right thing and leave the oil in the ground”.

Image from ‘Dear Norway’ as Shetlanders issue heartfelt plea to stop new oil field.

Shot around Shetland, the film highlights the strong historical and cultural ties between the islands and Norway, but also the “uncomfortable truth that binds us together: fossil fuels”.

It shows a boy from Shetland sending a message in a bottle to Norway about environmental harm and asks it to stop Rosebank.

The letter begins: “Dear Norway, this is Shetland, your sibling across the sea. We need to talk.”

Campaigners urge Norway to instead “lead the transformation” away from oil and gas and instead supply “clean energy” across Europe.

Alex Armitage, a Green councillor on Shetland, who features in ‘Dear Norway’, said: “We all know that climate breakdown is threatening our future, yet still we continue to burn fossil fuels.

“In this age of delusion, the world needs leadership on climate. As enlightened societies, the UK and Norway must take a stand and make the choice to leave our fossil fuels in the ground and lead the global energy transition.”

Laura Bisset, a young climate campaigner from Shetland, who also features in the film, said: “Drilling at Rosebank is another step backwards in a race against the climate crisis which we are already losing.”

Equinor said it had established “good relations” with suppliers on Shetland.

A spokeswoman said: “The UK is a net importer of oil and gas. Rosebank has the potential to strengthen energy security with oil and gas that is produced with a much lower carbon footprint than imports and current UK production.

Climate activists protest against Rosebank oil field (Jessica Kleczka)

“We have already established good relations with local suppliers in Shetland and are looking forward to further collaboration as the project moves forward.

“We aim to develop and operate Rosebank with the lowest possible carbon footprint while bringing the maximum value to society in the shape of UK investment, local jobs and energy security.”

The UK Government said no decision had been made yet on whether to approve the Rosebank plans.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is leading the world on climate change and our British Energy Security Strategy sets out our plan to supercharge our domestic renewable energy and nuclear capacity, as well as supporting our North Sea oil and gas industry as we transition to lower carbon energy.  

“No decision has yet been made regarding the proposed Rosebank field and development proposals for oil fields under existing licences are a matter for the regulators.”

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