Norway has issued new licenses for exploratory drilling for oil in the Arctic. It concerns three licenses for drilling in the Barents Sea and one for the Norwegian Sea. The Norwegian government has plans to extract more oil in the Arctic part of the country.
It is the 25th round in granting drilling permits in unexplored areas. The four licenses went to seven oil and gas companies, including the Norwegian state oil group Equinor and a Norwegian subsidiary of the Italian Eni. Other companies also have interests in the exploratory drilling fields, including Shell. However, the shell is not an operator in this respect.
According to the Norwegian minister for oil and energy, the permits are important for employment, among other things. Oslo has been issuing permits for exploratory drilling in areas that have not yet been surveyed for the presence of oil for decades. Norway is the main producer of oil and gas in Western Europe.
Environmental groups have criticized the Arctic exploration plans for being at odds with Norway’s pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions. There is also increasing pressure in Norwegian politics to curb oil and gas extraction.
Recently, Norwegian climate activists have gone to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to oppose oil extraction in the Arctic. According to them, new oil drilling violates human rights and jeopardizes the future of young people because of the climate crisis. Also, the livelihoods of the indigenous Sami people in northern Norway are endangered by environmental damage and climate change, they say.