Environmentalists blast Norway over Arctic oil plan
The Norwegian government has been urging oil and gas companies to boost exploration in remote Arctic regions as it seeks to strengthen its position as the EU’s largest gas supplier, CNBC reported on Monday.
However, the push has elicited discontent from environmentalists, who see the country’s actions as antithetical to the pursuit of green policies.
Norway, which is not an EU member state, has become the bloc’s largest supplier of natural gas after Russia reduced exports due to sanctions. As a result, the nation’s energy industry has generated record income as prices soared.
According to the report, it is now seeking to maintain the continent’s energy security by exploring the Barents Sea for additional resources.
The government earlier announced plans to offer energy firms a record number of oil and gas exploration blocks in the Arctic “to explore all economic oil and gas resources within the available areas, including in the Barents Sea.”
Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland reportedly said late last month that the industry should “leave no stone unturned” in its pursuit of new hydrocarbon discoveries.
A spokesperson for energy giant Equinor told CNBC that the company hoped to see “new attractive acreage in the Barents Sea” as they “want to explore more.”
Meanwhile, environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth Norway, WWF-Norway, and Greenpeace Norway have described the country’s lobbying for continued oil and gas expansion as “embarrassing,” “extremely reckless” and “a middle finger to the Paris Agreement.”
The head of Greenpeace Norway, Frode Pleym, told CNBC that “oil drilling in the Arctic is like pouring gasoline on a fire.”
“Both Norway and the oil corporations need to stop cynically exploiting Russia’s war in Ukraine,” Pleym reportedly said. “The aggressive and greedy oil policy of Norway does not only consolidate Oslo’s position as a top energy supplier to Europe, it locks a whole continent into future dependency on fossil fuels. The alternative to oil and gas is not more oil and gas, it is more energy efficiency and renewable energy,” he argued.
Truls Gulowsen, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway, noted that it can take around 15 years to go from exploration to production.
“Norway is making a huge profit off energy prices in Europe and few countries have such a strong basis to lead on climate policy,” Gulowsen told CNBC.
Norway has pumped oil and gas from its continental shelf for more than 50 years. Roughly two-thirds of the country's undiscovered oil resources are estimated to lie off its northern coast in the Arctic’s Barents Sea.
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