Statoil gets go ahead for giant oil project

Norway on Friday gave its green light to the development of the mammoth Johan Sverdrup gas field in the North Sea, the first phase of which alone is worth 118 billion Norwegian kroner ($14.4bn)

Statoil gets go ahead for giant oil project
A digital mock up of the Johan Sverdrup Field Centre. Photo: Statoil/Digital
The project, headed by Norwegian oil group Statoil, is a huge boost to the country’s flagging oil sector, which has suffered from plunging investments due to lower oil prices.
“The development will be of enormous significance for employment and activities on the continental shelf in the future, as well as for many onshore suppliers,” Oil and Energy Minister Tord Lien said in a statement.
Norway, where oil and gas account for about 20 percent of the economy, has suffered from the falling oil prices, which have more than halved in the past year.
Oil companies have as a result limited their investments, and more than 20,000 jobs have been cut in the sector since the start of 2014, pushing unemployment up to 4.3 percent in May — a figure which is low compared to
many other European countries, but is the highest Norway has seen in over a decade.
Johan Sverdrup is expected to begin production at the end of 2019. Investment in the first phase is 117 billion kroner (12.7 billion euros, $14.3 billion), though partners in the project hope to bring down the bill by
benefiting from falling costs in the oil business.
The project is expected to create 51,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“We are on schedule,” senior Statoil official Oivind Reinertsen said. “The project activities will now be stepped up, and more contracts will be awarded in the autumn,” he said in a statement.
Contracts worth 40 billion kroner have already been awarded, the group said. Production at the oil field is expected to be between 315,000 and 380,000 barrels per day during the first phase, before reaching 550,000 to 650,000 once the field is completely developed.
Norway’s entire production currently ticks in at around 1.5 million barrels per day.
Statoil holds 40.03 percent of the project, Swedish group Lundin 22.60 percent, Norwegian state-owned group Petoro 17.36 percent, private Norwegian group 11.57 percent and Denmark’s Maersk 8.44 percent.


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.