Scotland’s pioneering push to curb carbon emissions from offshore oil & gas by linking it to floating wind turbines was branded “greenwash” by climate campaigners.

The INTOG seabed leasing round, which awarded initial exclusivity deals to around 5.5GW of projects today (Friday), most of that aiming to export wind power to oil & gas assets, has been hailed as a way to help Scotland’s huge hydrocarbons sector decarbonise its production, meeting one of the goals of the North Sea Transition deal the industry signed with the UK government in 2021.

When INTOG was launched in 2022, Scottish cabinet secretary for net-zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson labelled it part of “bold action to tackle the climate emergency” that “presents significant opportunities to cut emissions across these operations while, crucially, enabling the offshore wind sector to expand, innovate, and drive forward Scotland’s ambition to be a renewables powerhouse”.

But critics claim that replacing the use of sources such as diesel power on a platform dedicated to massive fossil fuel extraction is a distraction from the real issue.

Scotland oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison told Recharge: “The irony should not be lost on anyone that as the fossil fuel industry thinks about attaching wind turbines to oil platforms, they are also pushing to drill every last drop of oil and gas… cutting emissions from producing oil and gas is a drop in the ocean compared to the pollution from actually burning the final oil and gas produced.”

The awarding of lease options under INTOG comes amid an upswing in confidence in the hydrocarbons industry that its core products will remain in demand as a plank of energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Aitchison said: “Both climate science and energy experts are crystal clear that there can be no new oil or gas developments if we want to stay within the agreed limits of global temperature rises, no matter how much the industry tinkers around the edges of North Sea emissions.”

“Renewable energy should be used to power our transport and heat our homes, not greenwash the climate-destroying plans of profiteering oil companies.”