Greenpeace slams Norway as ‘environmental hypocrite’ after drilling leases awarded

Greenpeace slams Norway as 'environmental hypocrite' after drilling leases awarded
Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible drilling rig (Image source: Greenpeace)

Environmentalists are fuming over latest offshore leases awards in Norway, covering acreage in the Barents Sea.

Following the licensing round in which thirteen companies were offered offshore acreage in the area, Greenpeace has slammed the move as a “clear violation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement”.

Head of Greenpeace Norway, Truls Gulowsen said: “In Paris five months ago, Norway signed up to do their part to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. In such a scenario there is no room for Arctic oil exploration.”

Within the acreage awarded, there are various commitments to be undertaken by the oil companies, such as geophysical tests, seismic acquisition and reprocessing, and finally drilling.

The first well within the newly awarded acreage could be expected as early as 2017, and it will be drilled by Statoil, which obtained five licences and committed to drill five exploration wells.

According to Greenpeace, the latest offshore licensing round does not violate one, but two recent agreements.

The organization has pointed to the recent deal signed by the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, with US President Barack Obama to ensure sustainable development in the Arctic.

New exploration licenses in the Barents Sea, are a clear violation of such an agreement, Greenpeace accuses.

“It is with shock and anger we register that Norway is violating two recent environmental agreements, just to get their hands on Arctic oil. This is yet another example of Norway as an environmental hypocrite,” Gulowsen said.

The companies offered acreage in the latest round are Lundin Norway, Dea Norge, Idemitsu Petroleum Norge, Centrica Resources, Det norske oljeselskap, Capricorn Norge, Statoil, Petoro, Tullow, OMV, Lukoil Overseas Petroleum, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.

To remind, oil giant Shell last month decided to withdraw from taking part in the licensing round, citing challenging market situation, which requires difficult portfolio choices.

“Despite knowing we could have explored safely, both environmentally and technically, the current conditions are such that we globally have to prioritise activities with a shorter return on investment compared to a potential Barents Sea discovery,” Tor Arnesen, Managing Director of A/S Norske Shell said in April.

In its statement on Wednesday, May 18, Greenpeace touched upon Shell’s decision as well, saying other companies should follow the example and abandon Arctic oil.

Norway’s energy minister Tord Lien on Wednesday assured the exploration would be carried in an environmentally responsible way: “We have almost 40 years of operational experience in the Barents Sea. The operational conditions in the areas where we are awarding acreage today, are well known from other parts of the NCS. Oil and gas activities in Norway will only take place within a sound health, safety and environment framework. This also goes for the acreages we are awarding today.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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