Norway to Continue Exploration in Barents Sea, Halts E&P; in Lofoten

March 14, 2011
The Norwegian government has decided to put on halt the exploration of the Lofoten area, but instead heightens its focus on the petroleum resources in the Barents Sea.

The Norwegian government has decided not to elaborate any consequence study for the Lofoten waters in this election period. With the decision, the government coalition might have overcome one of its most controversial issues. As previously reported, the Lofoten issue is believed to have had the potential to make the three-party left-green coalitions collapse.

Environmentalists cheer over the decision. "This is a grand victory", Gaute Wahl, leader of the Movement for an Oil-Free Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja, says to NRK. Also the Bellona Foundation welcomes the decision, describing it as a “historical victory” and a “huge defeat” for the oil industry.

However, the environmentalists’ victory in Lofoten might not be long-lived. The compromise only covers this election period. After 2013, the government might eventually change position and choose to let in the oilmen. In addition, the compromise deal reportedly also includes the collection of certain addition information in the area already now, something which can be efficiently used in a later consequence study, newspaper VG reports. This collection of information is to be conducted primarily by the Ministry of the Environment.

Experts also note that the most promising field in the Lofoten area – the Nordland VI field – already has been consequence studied, thus making a quick opening of the field possible at a later stage.

The government compromise also includes a higher focus on the Barents Sea, and especially the areas recently delineated waters in the eastern part of the region.

According to the newspaper, Norwegian authorities will be ready to start collecting information about the area as soon as the Russian State Duma ratifies the delimitation deal. As BarentsObserver reported, the Norwegian-Russian treaty is expected to be ratified by the Russian legislators in the course of March.

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