In a white book on its energy future, Oslo said it wanted to “extend the current practice with regular concession cycles on the Norwegian continental shelf to give the industry access to new prospecting zones.”
“We will supply energy to the world as long as the demand exists,” Oil and Energy Minister Tina Bru told a press conference.
“The government will therefore maintain an oil policy that facilitates profitable oil and gas production in the framework of the Norwegian climatepolicy and our climate goals,” she said.
The Scandinavian country aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 50 and 55 percent by 2030, and to almost nothing by 2050.
But it is regularly criticised for the CO2 emissions generated abroad by the oil it exports.
This week, Norway launched a call for applications for a new licensing round in new offshore zones.
The Norwegian position contrasts sharply with that of the IEA, which recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
International observers have criticised the Norwegian position.
“The Norwegian government and industry cannot ignore science,” said Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, co-president of international think tank The Club of Rome.
“We look to Norway for leadership and ambition on the energy transition – not complacency and backtracking,” she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the head of climate and energy issues at the WWF, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said that “by standing on the side of fossil fuel interests, Norway risks having stranded assets.”
“Norway’s position will increase the risk of the world reaching fragile climate tipping points, which in turn will cause devastating impacts on the natural world on which we depend,” he said.
In 2018, Norway was the world’s 14th biggest producer of oil and 8th biggest producer of natural gas, according to the latest figures from the US Energy Information Administration.