Oil extraction – an improvisation exercise

I’ve chosen to focus today on a recent decision by the UK regulator to authorise oil and gas extraction at Rosebank, off the coast of Scotland.

This is a very topical issue in the UK, but it also illustrates many important arguments that are relevant to the energy security and climate debate more broadly.

In today’s exercise, you are going to be improvising a short speech about the Rosebank project.


The first thing to do is for you to find out a bit about Rosebank.

Start by reading these articles (click on the images).

Structuring your thoughts

Now grab a pen and write down:

  • a few basic points about Rosebank (what it is, where it is located, what its potential production is)
  • the government’s arguments in favour of drilling
  • arguments against the project

When you’ve finished, you can compare with my ideas if you like.

Basic points:

  • Rosebank lies off the coast of Scotland
  • oil + gas field
  • could contain 300 million barrels of oil or more
  • could account for 80% of total UK oil production from 2026-2030
  • owned by Norwegian energy giant Equinor and UK firm Ithaca energy

Arguments in favour of development:

  • could bolster UK energy security (greater energy independence, “make us more secure against tyrants like Putin”
  • “makes sense” for UK to use its own oil and gas supplies during energy transition
  • job creation: 1600 jobs at peak time (during construction), then 450
  • over £6 bn spent in UK supply chain – beneficial for local energy in Aberdeenshire
  • Overall: stability for the economy, shot in the arm for UK energy sector

Arguments against: 

  • harm to local wildlife (whales, clams, corals, sponges; dolphins, whales; commercially important fish e.g. haddock)
  • harms the UK’s efforts to reach net zero. Huge potential CO2 emissions, when International Energy Agency has said there should be NO new oil/gas projects
  • it won’t reduce UK households’ bills. The oil and gas will be distilled abroad, and the UK would have to buy it on the international market, like anyone else.
  • Equinor and Ithaca will be able to reduce their tax bills by reinvesting in new North Sea energy projects (government incentive scheme) -> not paying full tax, and continuing activities harmful to the environment.


Your task is to prepare a short speech based on the information you have gathered. You have one additional challenge: to incorporate the following phrases:

  • the green light was given
  • it gives the lie to arguments that
  • playing politics with the climate emergency
  • it sends a disastrous message
  • for short term electoral gain
  • economic myopia is sabotaging

Here’s the process to follow (if you like!):

  • Choose which arguments you will use
  • see where you can incorporate the phrases I’ve given you
  • write a bullet point outline
  • switch on your recording device and give your speech in English
  • listen back to your performance, and see if you can pick up any sections that could have been phrased better.

Obviously I’m not with you right now to correct your English or give you suggestions, so on this occasion I’m going to show you how you can use Artificial Intelligence to give you a helping hand.

Comparing your version with others

When you don’t have a tame native speaker to help you out, you can use an AI like ChatGPT. We may as well harness AI for our own purposes, since it can sometimes be useful!

I gave a prompt to ChatGPT, and here’s what it came up with:

“In the heart of Scotland, the Rosebank oil field has been a contentious issue for years. Environmentalists and climate advocates have long argued that exploiting this vast reserve of hydrocarbons would be a grave mistake, given the looming climate emergency. However, recently, the green light was given for its development, and this decision has ignited a fresh wave of debate.

Supporters of the Rosebank oil field development argue that it provides a significant economic boost to the region, generating jobs and revenue. It gives the lie to arguments that prioritizing environmental concerns must always come at the expense of economic growth. Yet, this perspective risks overlooking the larger picture.

In a time when the world is grappling with the dire consequences of climate change, playing politics with the climate emergency for short-term electoral gain sends a disastrous message to the global community. The decision to move forward with Rosebank’s development highlights a troubling trend where economic myopia is sabotaging long-term sustainability efforts.

The Rosebank oil field is undoubtedly an economic boon for the local community and the energy sector, but its extraction and combustion contribute to the very climate crisis we are urgently trying to address. It underscores the inherent tension between immediate economic interests and the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Rather than choosing sides in this divisive debate, it’s essential for stakeholders to seek a balance between economic development and environmental responsibility. This could involve investing in cleaner energy alternatives, transitioning the workforce, and mitigating the environmental impact of extraction. In this way, we can ensure that the Rosebank oil field development becomes a model for sustainable resource management, rather than a symbol of short-sighted decision-making.

As we move forward, it’s imperative that we recognize the significance of the Rosebank oil field debate. It serves as a stark reminder of the choices we make today and their far-reaching consequences for our planet’s future. Balancing economic prosperity with environmental stewardship is not an easy task, but it’s one we must undertake if we are to navigate the climate emergency successfully.”

Useful ideas for you

I’ve highlighted in bold the phrases I asked ChatGPT to include. You’ll see I’ve also highlighted lots of other things, and that’s because the text contains many useful phrases that you could steal:

  • a contentious issue
  • they have long argued
  • the looming climate emergency
  • the decision has ignited a fresh wave of debate
  • it provides a significant economic boost to the region
  • the world is grappling with the dire consequences of…
  • it highlights a troubling trend
  • it is undoubtedly an economic boon
  • it contributes to the very climate crisis we are urgently trying to address
  • the inherent tension between…
  • the imperative to..(reduce greenhouse gas emissions)
  • rather than choosing sides in this divisive debate
  • a symbol of short-sighted decision-making
  • it serves as a stark reminder
  • to navigate the climate emergency successfully

Note that all of these can be used in other contexts.

Second ChatGPT version

Just in case you’re interested, I tried a different prompt, to get ChatGPT to include specific arguments (harm to wildlife, the effect on the UK’s climate targets, and the fact that drilling at Rosebank won’t reduce UK household energy bills).

Here’s the result, which you might like to scour for useful phrases:

“The Rosebank oil field development has been a source of intense debate and controversy in recent years. Despite concerns over its environmental impact, the green light was given to proceed with drilling operations. This decision, while seen as a boost to the local economy in Aberdeenshire, gives the lie to arguments that prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability.

One of the foremost concerns surrounding the Rosebank project is its potential harm to local wildlife. The North Sea is a vital habitat for various species, including seals, dolphins, and seabirds. Drilling activities and increased shipping traffic can disrupt these ecosystems, jeopardizing their fragile balance.

Moreover, the development of the Rosebank oil field directly contradicts the United Kingdom’s ambitious climate goals. It is no secret that the fossil fuel industry is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The extraction, transportation, and combustion of oil from Rosebank will add to this burden, making it even more challenging for the UK to meet its emissions reduction targets. Playing politics with the climate emergency for short-term electoral gain sends a disastrous message to the world.

Another argument frequently touted in favor of the Rosebank project is its potential to reduce energy bills for UK households. However, this claim needs careful examination. The global oil market is influenced by various factors, and local production doesn’t guarantee lower energy prices. In reality, prices are determined by a complex interplay of global supply and demand. Pinning hopes on Rosebank to significantly impact household energy bills may be overly optimistic.

On a more positive note, the development of the Rosebank oil field undoubtedly has economic benefits for Aberdeenshire. It brings jobs, investment, and economic activity to the region, providing much-needed support for local communities. However, it’s crucial to balance these short-term economic gains with the long-term environmental and climate consequences.

In conclusion, the Rosebank oil field development is emblematic of how economic myopia is sabotaging our efforts to combat climate change. While it promises economic prosperity for one region, it raises critical questions about our commitment to addressing the climate emergency and protecting the environment. Balancing economic interests with environmental responsibility remains a challenging but necessary endeavor in the face of an ever-worsening climate crisis.”

Last words

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that ChatGPT is always perfect, but it can be a useful tool.

If you’ve read both texts generated by the AI, you may feel, as I do, that the arguments can be a bit vague and circular; but that’s not what we’re using it for! Its usefulness to you lies in its ability to generate quite well-written English with phrases that you can lift and re-use in other contexts.

I hope you found this exercise useful!

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2 thoughts on “Oil extraction – an improvisation exercise”

  1. Hello

    The ideas in this exercise were very interesting, especially with regard to the topic of narrating in an extemporaneous manner, which created a question for me.
    Do you mean by improvisation, relying on our short memory by writing the basic points again after the first reading of the text (memory exercise) or is it training for what the interpreter may be exposed to during his work and sometimes improvising on a specific topic based on his general information?

    Thank you, and all the best.

    • Hi Naval,

      I didn’t create this as a memory exercise. By ‘improvising’, I meant speaking out loud on a specific topic, in a structured way. The idea behind reading the articles and noting down basic points was to give you some arguments and facts that you could then draw on when giving your own speech out loud. But you could also have used other arguments based on your own knowledge.

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