The controversial Cambo oil field off Shetland could now be developed after the owner of the field was bought by another energy firm.

Siccar Point Energy – which put the project on hold when Shell pulled out – has now been acquired by Ithaca Energy in a $1.5bn (£1.125bn) deal.

The new company has pledged to develop Cambo and the nearby Rosebank field.

Campaigners have criticised plans to develop Cambo, warning exploiting it would exacerbate climate change.

Ithaca’s chief executive Alan Bruce said Cambo and Rosebank were “two of the largest undeveloped and most strategically important discoveries” in UK waters.

Developing them, Mr Bruce added, was a “huge opportunity to not only help secure the UK’s energy future for at least another quarter of a century, but also to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the process.”

A spokeswoman for Shell, which still owns a 30% stake in Cambo, told the BBC that it had nothing to add to its statement in December when the oil giant said it had “concluded the economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough at this time, as well as having the potential for delays.”

The Cambo oil field is thought to contain 800 million barrels of oil, but its development has not yet received final approval from UK government regulators.

Scotland’s first minister has also said the project should not get the green light because of concern over climate change.

Cambo has been a key target for environmental lobbyists

The Scottish government said that unlimited extraction of fossil fuels was not consistent with its climate obligations.

A spokesman added: “We have consistently called on the UK government to urgently re-assess all approved oil licenses where drilling has not yet commenced against our climate commitments.

“New oil and gas fields do not present a timely solution to improving our energy security in the coming years. Even once operational, the extracted fossil fuels will still be affected by the same global market forces which have contributed to the current energy price crisis.”

The UK government has been approached for comment.

In December Siccar Point Energy, the project’s majority stakeholder, said it was pausing the Cambo project one week after its partner Shell pulled out.

Shell had a 30% stake in the field but said the economic case for investment in the North Atlantic project was “not strong enough”.

Siccar Point Energy said it would continue talks with the UK government over the future of the field.

Energy strategy

On Wednesday the UK government released its energy strategy, which covered plans to boost UK energy independence and tackle rising prices.

The plans included a new licensing round for oil and gas projects in the North Sea – something the Scottish government dismissed, saying it was not a long-term solution to energy concerns.

The UK government said its commitment to more North Sea projects recognised “the importance of these fuels to the transition and to energy security”, adding that producing gas in the UK had a lower carbon footprint than that imported from abroad.

But its climate advisers last month said UK-produced gas would be sold internationally and would barely reduce the consumer price.

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