Norway plans to supply report variety of Arctic oil, gasoline exploration blocks

A view of the Esmarkbreen glacier on Spitsbergen island, a part of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway on Sept 24, 2020. (Natalie Thomas / Reuters File Picture)

OSLO — Norway on Tuesday mentioned it plans to supply power companies a report variety of oil and gasoline exploration blocks within the Arctic because it seeks to lengthen its hydrocarbon manufacturing, whereas inexperienced campaigners criticized the danger to the setting.

The Nordic nation, Europe’s largest gasoline provider and a serious crude exporter, proposes to supply 78 blocks to power companies within the Barents Sea, the very best quantity for the reason that so-called APA licensing spherical started in 2003.

Oslo additionally plans to supply 14 new blocks within the Norwegian Sea, which spreads north of the North Sea and above the Arctic Circle, bringing the entire variety of blocks on supply to 92.

Final yr, the federal government added solely 28 blocks total to the so-called APA licensing spherical.

“To facilitate new discoveries up north is necessary for Europe, the nation and the area,” Oil and Power Minister Terje Aasland mentioned in an announcement.

Norway’s push to maintain producing oil and gasoline comes as power companies are underneath contradictory pressures, with a necessity on the one hand to provide hydrocarbons that aren’t from Russia, and on the opposite to restrict the results of local weather change.

The Barents Sea might include two-thirds of the oil and gasoline but to be found off Norway, in response to Norwegian official estimates.

Ice edge

Waters near the Arctic ice sheet are necessary feeding grounds for a lot of species, from tiny zooplankton to polar bears and whales.

Greenpeace mentioned most blocks on supply had been “far north” within the Barents Sea, with some mendacity in what it mentioned had been areas the place the ice sheet can generally attain through the yr.

“The federal government is driving coverage that’s the enemy of nature and the local weather,” Greenpeace Norway mentioned in an announcement.

The Arctic ice sheet’s floor grows in winter and shrinks in summer season. General it has contracted over time because of the results of local weather change, scientists have mentioned.

A lawmaker from the leftwing Socialist Left (SV), which the minority coalition of Labour and the rural-oriented Centre Occasion have to move laws, mentioned his social gathering would “battle to cease or cut back” the proposal.

“The federal government nonetheless thinks Norway needs to be one of many main nations in exporting air pollution and fossil fuels to the remainder of the world,” tweeted SV lawmaker Lars Haltbrekken. “That is the other of what the local weather disaster wants as a response.”

SV in November negotiated with the cupboard that there could be no licensing spherical in frontier areas, the so-called numbered licensing spherical, through the life of the present parliament which ends in 2025.

However that deal doesn’t cease the federal government from providing licenses to grease companies within the separate APA licensing spherical, meant to supply areas with well-known geology or close to current infrastructure.

On the time Oil Minister Aasland mentioned that “the significance of the numbered rounds has decreased over time,” and that what mattered for sustaining exercise was the APA spherical.

Further reporting by Nora Buli and Terje Solsvik.