Norwegian trade surplus grows despite oil strike

Norway's June trade surplus jumped 15.1 percent year-on-year, to 29.5 billion kroner ($4.82 billion), despite a fall in oil exports, the national statistics agency said on Monday.

Last month, Norwegian exports rose 8.9 percent to 72.2 billion kroner, while imports swelled 4.9 percent, to 42.6 billion, Statistics Norway said in a statement.

The export rise came despite an 8.8-percent drop in oil sales — the main driver of the Norwegian economy — amid falling barrel prices and export volumes.

"The decrease in the exported volume of crude oil may be linked to maintenance activity during the summer months and the strike that hit the Norwegian shelf at the end of June," Statistics Norway said.

The strike over a pension dispute started on June 24th and was brought to a dramatic end on July 10th when Norway's government intervened just minutes ahead of a threatened lockout at all the country's oil production sites.

The work stoppage entailed total losses of about 3.1 billion kroner, according to the employers' organisation, although most of the impact should be seen in July trade figures.

Excluding oil and gas, Norway had a trade deficit of 11 billion kroner in June, compared to a 10.5-billion kroner deficit during the same month a year earlier, Statistics Norway said.

Including oil and gas, Norway saw its trade surplus grow 24.8 percent, to 242.5 billion kroner, during the first half of 2012, while its trade deficit excluding its offshore riches shrank to 59.9 billion kroner from 65 billion during the first half of 2011.

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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.