Norway’s supreme court asked by Greenpeace to rule on Arctic oil
OSLO – On Monday, Greenpeace and its partners asked Norway’s supreme court to rule on the country’s Arctic oil and gas exploration licences’ legality, a case which could block the expansion plans of the petroleum industry.
If the case reaches the Supreme Court, the decision can finalise if oil firms can look for hydrocarbons off northern Norway, where billions of barrels of oil are believed to be found.
Two lower courts found the government’s drilling plan legal, rejecting claims of environmentalists’ which state that it breached people’s right to a healthy environment.
If the court takes up the case, the hearing would be this year or next and its decision would be final. A formal process must be followed involving the appeal court initially.
Greenpeace and Nature and Youth are leading the case and they state exploration shall lead to higher climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions.
The government’s 2015-2016 licensing round was targetted by the groups, wherein 13 companies, including Equinor, were granted licences.
“Opening up the pristine areas in the Arctic for oil drilling in the time of a climate emergency is not acceptable.”
– Frode Pleym, Greenpeace Norway chief
Being western Europe’s largest oil and gas exporter, Norway’s reserves made it one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
The production is mainly from the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea but recent developments show opportunity in the Barents Sea too.
The lawsuit seeks to use the founding principles of a nation to curb emissions to make their case.
The environmentalist groups cited Norway’s constitution’s article 112, guaranteeing the right of current and future generations to a healthy and sustainable environment. It also cited Norway’s commitments to bringing down emission levels under the UN climate agreement.
The government’s decision to grant exploration permits were lawful, and it was not up to the courts but the parliament, to decide future exploration.
Oil companies drilled exploration wells in some areas, but no significant discoveries have been made so far. Later this year, Aker BP plans to drill a well.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.