Greenpeace files ‘historic’ lawsuit against Norway over Arctic drilling plans

Environmental organization Greenpeace filed a lawsuit on Tuesday morning against the Norwegian government for allowing oil companies to drill for new oil in the Arctic Barents Sea. 

The lawsuit has been filed together with the Norwegian environmental group Nature & Youth in order to keep millions of barrels of oil in the ground. The Norwegian state-owned oil company Statoil has been named as the central defendant in the case.

“In a historic court case we, together with Nature & Youth, are suing the Norwegian government for allowing Statoil and other oil companies to expand oil drilling in the Arctic,” the organization said on Tuesday.

The plaintiffs, Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic, argue that Norway violates the Paris Agreement and the people’s constitutional right to a healthy and safe environment for future generations.

According to Greenpeace, Norway was among the first countries in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement which is about to enter into force. By ratifying, Norway has promised to ambitiously reduce its emissions and help limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

At the same time, the organization adds, Norway has opened up new oil license rounds, allowing the state-owned oil company Statoil and other oil companies to start a major new exploration campaign in the Barents Sea, where they want to drill up to 7 new exploratory wells in 2017.

Truls Gulowsen, Greenpeace Norway, said: “Signing an international climate agreement while throwing open the door to Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous act of hypocrisy. By allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic, Norway risks undermining global efforts to address climate change. When the government fails to redress this we have to do what we can to stop it.”

The 13 oil companies that have new license blocks in the Barents Sea are: Statoil (Norway), Capricorn and Centrica (UK), Chevron and ConocoPhillips (USA), DEA (Germany), Aker BP (Norway), Idemitsu (Japan), LUKOIL (Russia), Lundin Petroleum (Sweden), OMV (Austria), PGNiG (Norway/ Poland), Tullow (UK / Africa).

The legal action follows a recent decision by the Britsh oil giant BP to withdraw from its drilling plans in the Great Australian Bight. BP is the operator of the license in the Ceduna area of the GAB with 70% interest and Statoil was its partner with the remaining 30% interest.

This project has also been under fire by the environmentalist groups claiming it was a disaster waiting to happen, considering the area is a marine park.

Last year, another oil major, Royal Dutch Shell, backed down from further Arctic drilling plans after an exploration well in the Alaska’s Chukchi Sea discovered traces of oil and gas but not enough to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect.

Offshore Energy Today Staff