Norway faces backlash from campaigners for ‘reckless’ pursuit of Arctic oil and gas
A view of fjords as they soften as a consequence of local weather change close to Svalbard Islands, within the Arctic Ocean in Norway on July 19, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The Norwegian authorities is asking on vitality giants to ramp up oil and gas exploration initiatives in distant areas just like the Arctic Barents Sea, defying a way of palpable frustration amongst local weather campaigners because the Nordic nation seeks to shore up its place as Europe’s largest gas provider.
The rethink in technique comes as Norway strives to maintain up with rising demand for its vitality exports within the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Norway last year overtook Russia as Europe’s largest pure gas provider and says it’s now looking for to take care of Europe’s vitality safety by exploring the Barents Sea for additional sources.
Speaking within the city of Hammerfest late final month, Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland reportedly mentioned that the business ought to “leave no stone unturned” of their pursuit for recent hydrocarbon discoveries within the Barents Sea.
Aasland even described this coverage because the oil and gas business’s “social accountability,” in accordance with Bloomberg, saying undiscovered sources might assist to take care of the nation’s future manufacturing ranges.
Norway oil and gas large Equinor and Vår Energi, one of the nation’s largest exploration and manufacturing corporations, confirmed to CNBC that the minister not too long ago issued this name.
A spokesperson for Norway’s petroleum and vitality ministry, in the meantime, mentioned that the message to vitality giants was “to discover all financial oil and gas sources inside the obtainable areas, together with within the Barents Sea.”
Norway has pumped oil and gas from its continental shelf, a comparatively shallow part of seabed off its coast, for greater than 50 years and it at the moment has a number of oil and gas fields both in manufacturing or beneath improvement.
Oil drilling within the Arctic is like pouring gasoline on a hearth.
Head of Greenpeace Norway
It is estimated that roughly two-thirds of the nation’s undiscovered oil sources lies off the nation’s northern coast within the Arctic’s Barents Sea. And but, the will amongst vitality corporations to discover the Barents Sea for oil and gas has been comparatively subdued in recent times, partly as a consequence of excessive prices and restricted alternatives to export gas to markets.
At the beginning of the 12 months, nevertheless, Norway said it deliberate to supply vitality companies a report quantity of oil and gas exploration blocks within the Arctic.
Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth Norway, WWF-Norway and Greenpeace Norway have described the nation’s lobbying for continued oil and gas enlargement as “embarrassing,” “extraordinarily reckless” and “a center finger to the Paris Agreement.”
“Oil drilling within the Arctic is like pouring gasoline on a hearth,” Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, advised CNBC through electronic mail.
“Both Norway and the oil companies must cease cynically exploiting Russia’s struggle in Ukraine,” Pleym mentioned. “The aggressive and grasping oil coverage of Norway don’t solely consolidate Oslo’s place as a prime vitality provider to Europe, it locks a complete continent into future dependency on fossil fuels. The various to oil and gas isn’t extra oil and gas, it’s extra vitality effectivity and renewable vitality.”
The burning of fossil fuels, resembling coal, oil and gas, is the chief driver of the local weather disaster.
‘We wish to discover for extra’
Norway has been one of the world’s prime crude producers for the previous half-century because of its gigantic North Sea petroleum deposits — the spoils of which have been used to supply a sturdy security internet for present and future generations.
Oil and gas corporations imagine the Barents Sea can play an vital position in guaranteeing the long-term market entry for gas, noting the event of the sources on this space ought to match inside the EU’s Arctic coverage.
A spokesperson for Equinor advised CNBC that the corporate hoped to see “new enticing acreage within the Barents Sea.” They added, “we wish to discover for extra and we expect we’ll discover extra.”
Responding to the environmental issues of Arctic oil and gas drilling, a spokerson at Equinor mentioned, “We have a protracted observe report of offshore operations in harsh environments with excessive requirements on security, safety and sustainability.”
“We know the Barents area effectively and work along with the authorities to plan and execute our operations in a sustainable manner with as little as potential impression on the atmosphere.”
A LNG ship is pictured on the island Melkoya the place Norwegian vitality large Equinor has constructed a facility for receiving and processing pure gas from the Snøhvit subject within the Barents Sea.
Fredrik Varfjell | Afp | Getty Images
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the federal government company accountable for the regulation of petroleum sources, recently lamented the shortage of exploration within the Barents Sea, saying its calculations present that such exercise “is worthwhile in all ocean areas.”
Separately, a mid-April research from gas infrastructure operator Gassco said constructing a pipeline to move gas produced within the Arctic Barents Sea could possibly be value re-examining as a result of nation stepping up its gas exports to Europe.
A spokesperson for Vår Energi described the Barents Sea as a strategic hub for oil and gas drilling, one that gives a “manageable, ice-free” half of the Arctic with climate and local weather circumstances like different components of the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
It is for this cause, Vår Energi says, that the Barents Sea shouldn’t be in comparison with different Arctic areas characterised by harsher circumstances, including that the corporate abides by strict environmental rules.
Climate marketing campaign teams refute this logic, warning that any oil spill on this space would spell catastrophe to the wealthy however acutely susceptible ecosystems and marine life.
‘A powerful foundation to guide on local weather coverage’
“Russia’s struggle towards Ukraine doesn’t justify an additional push for Arctic oil and gas, as it will possibly take round 15 years to go from exploration to manufacturing,” Truls Gulowsen, chief of Friends of the Earth Norway, advised CNBC.
“Norway is making an enormous revenue off vitality costs in Europe and few international locations have such a robust foundation to guide on local weather coverage,” Gulowsen mentioned.
Ragnhild Waagaard, local weather and vitality lead in WWF-Norway, mentioned it’s comprehensible governments wish to handle the vitality disaster and excessive vitality prices inflicting actual hardship for many individuals however warned that doubling down on fossil fuels is not going to assist.
“Countries ought to quickly enhance their uptake of renewable vitality, enhance vitality effectivity and cut back demand for vitality. The selections we make now, and the best way governments reply to the evolving vitality disaster, will decide whether or not we succeed or fail,” Waagaard mentioned.