Photo: Illustration; Source: Government of Greenland

Greenland says ‘NO’ to further oil exploration. Focus on renewable energy

Greenland has put a halt to its 50-year attempt to become an oil producing nation after announcing it would stop granting exploration licences and suspend a strategy of searching for oil.

Oil exploration in Greenland has been a thing since the 1970s, involving major oil companies like Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Eni, but – unfortunately – most drilling was dry.

Greenland, which is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, has immense mineral wealth and a fantastic strategic location so former U.S. President Donald Trump even proposed to buy the Arctic island.

This was quickly dismissed by both the government of Greenland’s and Denmark. The new U.S. administration said earlier this year that it had no plan to buy the territory.

The Greenlandic government or Naalakkersuisut is still committed to developing the country’s vast mineral potential as long as it does not involve the extraction of uranium. There is a draft bill under consultation which bans preliminary investigation, exploration, and extraction of uranium on the island.

The ban on uranium mining is rooted in a profound belief that business activities must take nature and the environment into account. The government stated on Thursday that the same concerns are behind its decision to stop new oil and gas exploration.

Greenlandic underground contains large unexplored deposits of oil. A study estimates that there is around $2.9 billion worth of de-risked barrels of oil on the west coast of Greenland. Large deposits are also expected to hide below the seabed on the east coast of Greenland.

However, the government stated that the price of oil extraction is too high. This is based on economic calculations and the possible impact on the climate and the environment.

As a result, Naalakkersuisut decided to cease issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Greenland. This step has been taken ‘for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of the tourism industry, and to focus [Greenland’s] business on sustainable potentials’.

Naaja H. Nathanielsen

The Minister for Housing, Infrastructure, Mineral Resources, and Gender Equality, Naaja H. Nathanielsen states: “It is the position of the Greenlandic government that our country is better off focusing on sustainable development, such as the potential for renewable energy”.

The Minister for Fisheries and Hunting, Aqqaluaq B. Egede added: “The decision emphasizes that Greenland manages its natural resources sustainably. It is a strong signal to be able to announce that our fish and catch comes from a country that puts sustainable management of our natural resources high on the agenda. By doing so we can continue to supply the world’s consumers with premium raw materials”.

The Minister for Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment, Kalistat Lund stated: “Naalakkersuisut is working to attract new investments for the large hydropower potential that we cannot exploit ourselves. The decision to stop new exploration for oil will contribute to place Greenland as the country where sustainable investments are taken seriously”.