Norway’s oil minister: “We need new discoveries”

More drilling in Norwegian Arctic waters coming up. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Despite warnings about climate catastrophe, the Norwegian government prepares the ground for a significant expansion of oil and gas exploration in far northern waters.

“We have to make new discoveries in order to continue to develop the Norwegian shelf,” Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland says in connection with the Government’s proposal to open 92 new blocks in North Norwegian waters.

According to the minister, new Norwegian discoveries are important both for Norway and Europe.

The proposal includes 92 new so-called Awards in Predefined Areas (APA), all of them in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.

The northernmost proposed awards are located as far north as the 73rd parallel.

The announcement comes only few days after the Norwegian government offered 47 new production licenses on the Norwegian shelf.

The expansive oil policy is met with outrage from environmentalists.

“Gap between rhetoric and action needs to close”

According to Frode Pleym, Head of Greenpeace Norway, the Government of Jonas Gahr Støre is hypocritical in climate issues.

“Nature and climate must be the frame around all policies,” they say. But they do the opposite. Again and again,” he says in a tweet.

The proposed new acreage also stand in contrast to the recommendations of the International Energy Agency (IEA). In its report titled “Net Zero by 2050” from 2021, the IEA warns that there can be no new oil and gas projects if global warming is to be kept below 1,5 °C.

“The gap between rhetoric and action needs to close if we are to have a fighting chance of reaching net zero by 2050 and limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C,” says Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA.

While most European countries are experiencing energy crisis following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and blackmailing of the EU, Norway is making record-high revenue from its natural gas exports.

13 new projects submitted in 2022

In its 2022 annual report, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate outlines how export revenues have increased from about 400 billion kroner (€36,9 billion) 2020 to about 1,800 billion kroner  (€166,2 billion) in 2022.

Norway has almost never before produced this much natural gas on its shelf. And more is soon in the pipeline. Investments in new projects are on an extraordinarily high level, Directorate leader Torgeir Stordal said in a presentation of the report.

In the course of 2022, companies submitted development plans for 13 new projects and about 300 billion kroner (€27,7 billion) of investments.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Community in northern Quebec to make the jump from diesel to hydroelectricity, CBC News

Finland: The world could transition entirely to cheap, safe renewable energy before 2050: Finnish study, Yle News

Norway: Norwegian energy giant Equinor exits Russia, calling Ukraine invasion a “setback for the world,” The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian renewable energy soon without foreign partners, The Independent Barents Observer

United StatesBiden closes half of NPR-A acreage in Arctic Alaska to oil drilling, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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