Norway oil exports down by more than half

Norway's oil exports have plunged by more than a half since early 2014, authorities said Monday as deeply depressed crude prices dragged down the wealthy country's trade surplus.

Norway oil exports down by more than half
A tanker loading at Norway's Mongstad terminal, opened in 1988. Photo: Statoil

The Nordic country exported 13.2 billion kroner ($1.74 billion, 1.53 billion euros) worth of oil in January, a drop of 55 percent from the same month in 2014, according to figures from Statistics Norway.

"You have to go back to November 2001 to find a month where the value of oil exports was lower," the agency wrote in a statement.

Norway expects its record-high oil investments in 2014 to drop by 15 percent this year as the near-halving of oil prices since mid-2014 takes its toll on the Norwegian economy. GDP growth is expected to drop by more than half this year, from 2.3 percent in 2014 to 1.0 percent.

The sharp decline in exports last month slashed the Nordic country's overall trade surplus, which fell more than 40 percent year-on-year to 27.1 billion kroner. 

Citing oil prices, the Bank of Norway made a surprise cut to its key interest rate in December, down 0.25 points to 1.25 percent, and said it could cut the rate further in the first half of 2015.


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.