Statoil rolls out more barrels amid solid profits

Norwegian state oil group Statoil reported surprisingly strong quarterly profits on Tuesday on robust production figures even though net profit fell slightly.

Net profit for the first quarter of the year was 15.1 billion kroner ($2.6 billion), a fall of 5.4 percent from the figure of 16 billion kroner at the same time last year.

The fall reflected a boost to the figures last year from a capital gain, and an increased tax charge this year.

Gross operating profit after adjustments rose sharply to 59.2 billion kroner from 47.2 billion kroner, well above 53.5 billion kroner expected on average by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Sales also rose strongly to 195.4 billion kroner from 151.9 billion kroner.

The group produced 2.193 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, an increase of 11.3 percent, and has a target of exceeding 2.5 million barrels in 2020.

Statoil has just signed an ambitious cooperation agreement with the leading Russian oil group Rosneft to gain access to vast areas of Russian off-shore waters of the Barents Sea in the Arctic region, and in the Far East.

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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.