Norway extends ban on Arctic shelf oil production until 2013

18:36 14/03/2011 original article here

Norway’s government has extended a 30-year moratorium on oil production on its Arctic shelf until 2013 under pressure from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the environmental organization said on Monday.

“The moratorium for Lofoten and Vesteralen [islands] in Norway’s northern arctic waters is part of an overall management plan for the Barents Sea that is aimed at protecting important areas for fish, sea birds, seals and whales,” the WWF said on its website, adding that the ban would last until 2013.

The moratorium is part of WWF-supported campaigns already under way in Alaska and Russia to protect fisheries and communities.

The wildlife protection campaigns are based on studies showing that oil returns in the long term would be less than returns from well-protected biological resources.

“It is complete madness to trade in a sustainable fishery that could continue to accommodate the interests of both people and nature for generations for a few years of quick and dirty profits from oil,” said Rasmus Hanssen, Secretary General of WWF Norway, according to the website.

The organization has long called for Russia to follow Norway’s suit and protect its biological resources from oil company expansion. In particular, a recent Rosneft-BP deal to jointly extract oil from the Arctic shelf has raised serious concerns among environmentalists. The companies plan to start drilling in 2015.

MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti)

Arctic oil drill splits Norway’s government 14 March 2011 -original article here

Norway’s Labour-led coalition government is preparing for crisis talks after one of its parties, the Socialist Left (SV), pledged to hold out against oil drilling in the pristine Lofoten region.

The oil industry views the untapped waters around the Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands as one of the best remaining prospects off Norway, the world’s fifth biggest oil exporter, whose output has fallen by a third in the past decade. But Norway’s green and socialist movements oppose oil and gas activities in the region, which is home to Europe’s largest cod stock and unique cold water reefs.

A decision on whether to order an impact assessment study for drilling in Lofoten – the most divisive issue in Norwegian politics – is due within weeks. On March 9, Labour MPs asked Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to negotiate a way out of the stalemate with SV, possibly by changing the study’s name or tweaking its scope. But the Socialists rejected this. “We can’t accept any study that leads to opening the region for oil and gas activities,” SV’s energy spokesman Snorre Valen told Reuters. “We simply won’t compromise on this.”

Oil industry pressure
The ruling coalition has survived for six years, partly by delaying decisions on the Lofotens. But pressure from the oil industry, trades unions and some local people is forcing Labour to move on the issue. The SV environment minister Erik Solheim played down the chances of a government collapse to the Aftenposten newspaper.

“The government has for the past six years shown a phenomenal ability to survive. We have like Lazarus risen from the dead, and several times at that,” he was reported saying. Norway’s oil row comes as a report by the US National Academy of Sciences warns of a new struggle for oil and gas resources in the Arctic by 2030. Melting ice cover due to climate change will upset the Arctic power balance and intensify unresolved disputes among countries with Arctic borders. These include Norway, the US, Canada, Denmark, Russia, Iceland, Sweden and Finland.

“The geopolitical situation in the Arctic region has become complex and nuanced, despite the area being essentially ignored since the end of the Cold War,” the study says. It predicts a low chance of conflict but cautions that that “co-operation in the Arctic should not be considered a given even among close allies.”

(EurActiv with Reuters.)


The resource-rich Arctic is becoming increasingly contentious as climate change endangers many species of the region’s flora and fauna but also makes the region more navigable. Up to 25% of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas could be located there, according to the US Geological Survey.

No country owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic surrounding it. The surrounding Arctic states of the USA, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland) have a 200 nautical mile economic zone around their coasts.

In August 2007, a Russian icebreaker reached the North Pole and a Russian mini-submarine planted a titanium Russian flag on the seabed there. The move was widely interpreted as a bellicose claim by Russia to the North Pole seabed and its resources.

Norway covers between 10 and 18% of EU oil demand and about 15% of its natural gas. The country, a member of the European Economic Area since 1994, is the world’s third largest exporter of oil and gas after Saudi Arabia and Russia.

By 2015-2020, natural gas deliveries from Norway to the EU are expected to grow from 85 billion cubic metres to 120 bcm, covering 7-9% of the EU’s entire gas consumption by 2020.

North-Norway Governors ready for Lofoten oil (NRK)

Via Barents Observer 2010-04-16

County Governors, Odd Eriksen of Nordland County and Pia  Svendsgaard of Troms County

The County Governors of Nordland and Troms Counties, Odd Eriksen and Pia Svendsgaard of the Labour Party (AP), will not let the Socialist party (SV) stand in the way for a Government decision on Lofoten and Vesterålen oil exploration.

Oil exploration outside Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja in Northern Norway has once again reached the headlines of Norwegian press. A new report on the oil and gas prospects of this area is presented this week. In connection with this county governor Odd Eriksen of Nordland County in North-Norway says to that the Norwegian Labour Party must not end up in a situation where the socialist party can stand in the way for a possible oil exploration of the Lofoten and Vesterålen areas.

– All documentation on this area which have been presented show that we have to proceed with this work, and we expect that the Government decides to do the consequence analysis which will open for oil exploration, says Eriksen to NRK Troms og Finnmark.

The Labaour party and the Socialist party has together with the Center party formed a coalition government in Norway. However, both the Socialist party and the Centre party give no opening for oil and gas exploration outside Lofoten and Vesterålen. The Labour party is awaiting the management plan before they decide on the future of this area.

Further north in Norway Eriksen’s colleague, County Governor Pia Svendsgaard of Troms Count, agrees with Eriksens stand.

– We cannot sit in the northernmost parts of Norway and see all business development be ripped apart, because a few groups demand preservation, says Svendsgaard.

According to Eriksen, opionons polls show that most people in northern Norway welcomes a consequence analysis on oil exploration in this area.

Original article here

Norway to halve Lofoten oil/gas resource view (NRK)

OSLO, April 16 (Reuters) – The Norwegian government has slashed the resource estimate for the Lofoten and Vesteraalen region to some 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent, nearly half of their estimate a year ago, broadcaster NRK said on Friday.


The government is due to hold a news conference on the expected oil and gas deposits to be found in the Lofoten region in the Arctic later on Friday.

The pristine archipelago remains closed to oil activities but Norway’s powerful oil industry, led by national champion Statoil (STL.OL), has said it needs access to the region to continue the North Sea state’s oil boom.

Environmentalists argue that keeping the Lofotens free from drilling is the only way to avoid accidents that may irreparably damage its eco-system, rich fishing waters and image as one of Europe’s last tourist destinations unspoiled by modern industry.

Norway is the world’s No. 5 oil exporter and No. 3 in natural gas, but its oil output peaked in 2001 and has been declining faster than expected as North Sea fields mature. (Reporting by Wojciech Moskwa and Camilla Bergsli; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Original article here