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Environmentalists lose Barents Sea suit against Norwegian Government

Written by  OE Staff Friday, 05 January 2018 03:17

A law suit brought by environmental campaigners against the Norwegian Government over its decision to award production licenses in the Barents Sea as part of the 23rd licensing round has been witheld.

The 23rd round, which saw licenses awarded in May 2016, was the first time since 1994 that new exploration acreage was been made available to the industry in the southeastern Barents Sea. 

Oslo District Court found in favour of the Norwegian Government that the decision to award production licenses in the 23rd licensing round was valid.

The Government had argued that the decision to award licenses to search for petroleum in the Barents Sea was not a violation of section 112 of the Norwegian Constitution.

"The Court held that section 112 is a provision that establishes a right for everyone, and an obligation for the authorities to implement measures to safeguard the environment," says the Norwegian Government, in a statement. "In this instance, the authorities had implemented sufficient measures to safeguard the environment. Thus, there was no violation of section 112."

The government says that the District Court also agreed with the Government that the process up until the award of the production licenses in 2016 was lawful. The process had ensured that different scientific, technical as well as political views were discussed. 

Last year, some 15 exploration wells were planned for the Barents Sea, making 2017 the busiest year for exploration since a 12-well high in 2014. In addition, in 2017 the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate doubled its estimate of the undiscovered resources held in the Barents Sea to just under 18 billion boe, by including the eastern part of the northern Barents. This has increased the Barents share of undiscovered resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) from 50% to 65%.

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Barents in the spotlight

Image: Eni's Goliat facility was the first producing oil in the Barents Sea. Image from Eni.
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