The Norweigan government has increasingly opened up the Barents Sea for oil drilling. Photo: © V. Belov /

Norwegian NGOs demand: "No new oil licences"

Norway is the fourteenth-largest global producer of oil and the second-largest of gas. Almost all of it is sold to other countries, mostly to the EU and China. As shown by Oil Change International 1 Norway is the seventh-largest exporter of greenhouse gases – and the third largest per per capita (only beaten by Qatar and Kuwait). Despite the small population, Norway is a key contributor in keeping the world addicted to fossil fuels.

The industry is well established in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea, and therefore does not anticipate any big new discoveries in these areas, so it is looking for new areas to exploit. After roughly 20 years of battle, the environmental movement has been successful in keeping the Lofoten islands oil-free. But partly as a compensation for not opening up Lofoten, the government has increasingly opened up the Barents Sea for oil drilling – even in the particularly vulnerable marginal ice zone 2. Future development of the Norwegian petroleum industry will have to extend even further into the Arctic, where nature is as invaluable as it is vulnerable; where the risk of accidents are higher, and the costs too.

Anti-fossil fuels campaigns in Norway have traditionally centred around protecting especially vulnerable areas, such as the Lofoten islands and the marginal ice zone. The “nature argument” is still important in the debate regarding arctic oil, but more than ever Norwegian NGOs argue it is time to stop all further exploration for new petroleum out of concern for the climate. In addition to “no new oil licences” we are demanding that the government starts a managed winding down of existing production, and a just transition for the hundreds of thousands who work in or are connected to the industry today. These are the main demands of WWF Norway, Friends of the Earth Norway, Young Friends of the Earth Norway and Greenpeace Norway, who collaborate closely.

Andreas Randøy



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