Statoil buys US shale oil firm

Norwegian oil giant Statoil on Monday announced the $4.7 billion purchase of US company Brigham Exploration, in a move to enable the expansion of its non-conventional oil and gas extraction activities in the US.

The purchase will give the energy giant access to shale oil fields in the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the states of North Dakota
and Montana, which are among the largest oil accumulations in the United States, Statoil said.

Shale oil, like shale gas, holes up in a dense sedimentary rock which is fractured by large volumes of water and chemicals that are piped in horizontally under high pressure.

"The US unconventional plays hold a substantial resource base and represent an increasingly important part of future energy supplies," Statoil president and chief executive Helge Lund said in a statement.

"Entering the Bakken and Three Forks tight oil plays and taking on operatorship represents a new significant step for Statoil. We are positioning ourselves as a leading player in the fast growing US onshore oil and gas industry, in line with the strategic direction we have set out," he added.

Statoil said it would pay $4.4 billion in cash and another 300 million in acquired debt for the American company, offering a 36-percent premium over the
average trading price for Brigham stock for the last 30 days.

The deal was unanimously approved by the US company's board, Statoil said in its statement.

Based in Austin, Texas, Brigham currently produces some 21,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), Statoil said, adding that it hoped production would rise to between 60,000 and 100,000 boe/d over the next five years.

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NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings¬†

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.