Environmental activists have voiced strong opposition to Norway’s plans for oil and gas expansion, condemning the move as “a middle finger to the Paris Agreement.” The Norwegian government has called on energy giants to increase exploration projects in remote regions like the Arctic Barents Sea, aiming to solidify its position as Europe’s largest gas supplier.
This strategy shift comes as Norway seeks to meet the growing demand for its energy exports following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Having surpassed Russia as Europe’s top natural gas supplier last year, Norway intends to maintain Europe’s energy security by exploring the Barents Sea for additional resources.
According to an article by CNBC, Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister, Terje Aasland, reportedly stated last month that the industry should spare no effort in pursuing fresh hydrocarbon discoveries in the Barents Sea. He even referred to this policy as the oil and gas industry’s “social responsibility,” emphasizing the importance of undiscovered resources in sustaining the country’s future production levels.
However, environmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth Norway, WWF-Norway, and Greenpeace Norway have criticised Norway’s push for continued oil and gas expansion. They consider it “embarrassing,” “extremely reckless,” and contradictory to the Paris Agreement.
Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, likened oil drilling in the Arctic to “pouring gasoline on a fire”, according to the CNBC piece. Pleym urged Norway and oil corporations to halt their exploitation of the Ukraine conflict and transition towards energy efficiency and renewable sources
Approximately two-thirds of Norway’s undiscovered oil resources are believed to lie off its northern coast in the Barents Sea. However, recent years have seen limited interest from energy companies due to high costs and limited opportunities for gas exports to markets.
To address this, Norway plans to offer a record number of oil and gas exploration blocks in the Arctic. Nonetheless, climate campaigners argue that drilling in the Arctic could have catastrophic consequences for the fragile ecosystems and marine life in the region.
While oil and gas companies view the Barents Sea as crucial for long-term market access, environmentalists stress the urgency of accelerating the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. They emphasize that doubling down on fossil fuels contradicts efforts to combat the climate crisis and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
As the debate over Norway’s oil and gas expansion continues, activists advocate for a shift towards sustainable alternatives, highlighting the country’s potential to lead on climate policy and urging governments to prioritise renewable energy and reduce energy demand.
To be continued…