Equinor postpones decision on northernmost oil field

A file photo of the Equinor building in Fornebu, Baerum, Norway. (Hakon Mosvold Larsen / NTB / AFP via Getty Images)

Environmental organizations rejoice as the Norwegian oil company and its partners announce a postponement of an investment decision on oil project Wisting.

“This is a great victory for everyone that cares about climate and the environment,” says Truls Gulowsen, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.

“Time is over for the development of new major oil fields [and] we are convinced that this means the end for this horrible project,” the environmentalist underlines in a comment.

According to Equinor, global inflation and challenges related with energy markets and the war in Ukraine have created capacity challenges and bottlenecks among international and Norwegian suppliers.

“Many people have been working hard to realise Wisting, and the decision is demanding. However, in the current supplier market postponing the investment decision to ensure an economically sound development and robustness in the execution phase of the project is the right decision. When the pressure in the supplier market subsides, the Wisting project will be possible to execute in a good way,” Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s executive vice president, Projects, Drilling & Procurement, says in a statement.

Decision pushed to 2026

The updated plan for the project includes an investment decision by the end of 2026. The initial plan was to present the decision already in December this year.

The maturation of the project will continue, the company underlines.

“We will now, together with partners and suppliers, mature a profitable Wisting project that will have ripple effects in the North within the ordinary tax regime. We have previously successfully improved projects facing challenging cost developments prior to final investment decision. We will aim to do the same with the Wisting project,” says Kjetil Hove, executive vice president for Exploration & Production Norway.

If developed, the Wisting project will be the northernmost on the Norwegian shelf.

Wisting is located as much as 300 km north of the Norwegian mainland and only about 50 km south of the Arctic sea-ice edge.

Environmental organisations warn of Arctic dangers 

Environmental organisations have strongly warned against drilling in the area, arguing that a spill could seriously harm marine life in the area.

“The risks related with a development of the Wisting oil field are far to high and it is a gamble with marine life in the Arctic Leader of Friends of the Earth Truls Gulowsen says.

The project is also seen as a “climate bomb.”

“The Wisting field is planned to produce from 2028 to 2058, that is eight years after the date set for the world to be carbon neutral,” environmental organization Nature and Youth says.

In a statement, environmental organisation Nature and Youth demands that Norwegian legislators put a stop to field development.

“The project is not compatible with Norway’s climate targets and the need for a quicker green transition,” the environmentalists underline.

The Wisting partners include Equinor Energy AS (35 %), AkerBP AS (35 %), Petoro AS (20 %) and INPEX Idemitsu Norge AS (10 %).

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Climate conference hears loss of Arctic summer sea ice now inevitable by 2050, The Canadian Press

Greenland:  COP27— Indigenous knowledge must be included in policy making say Inuit leaders, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway ups climate ambitions…and boosts its fossil fuels, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian Arctic coal is looking for way out of sanctions, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Will the green transition be the new economic motor in the Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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