Greenpeace sues Norwegian government for allowing Arctic oil drilling
© RIA Novosti. Aleksandr Kovalev

Greenpeace sues Norwegian government for allowing Arctic oil drilling

On October 18, Greenpeace Nordic and Norway's Nature and Youth filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian government for allowing oil companies to drill for new oil in the Arctic Barents Sea, the TASS News Agency has reported.

The environmental organizations argue that Norway violates the Paris Climate Agreement and Article 112 of Norway's Constitution by distributing licenses for offshore oil production. Under this article, the authorities must take measures to guarantee Norwegian citizens the right to a healthy and safe environment and to manage natural resources on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations that will safeguard this right for future generations so as to maintain biodiversity and the productivity of ecosystems.

"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," said Truls Gulowsen, Greenpeace Norway.

In May, Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy awarded 10 licenses at the 23rd licensing round for the right to drill for oil on the Norwegian shelf. Licenses in the Barents and Norwegian seas were awarded to 13 companies, including a subsidiary of Russia's Lukoil and DEA Norge AS, which is controlled by Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman. In late August, the Norwegian government announced that several dozen other licenses for the Arctic shelf would be distributed in the 24th round.

Greenpeace, Norway's Bellona and other environmental organizations have staged many protest actions against oil and gas production in the Arctic and exploration drilling in the polar marginal ice zone. They argued that this could have particularly devastating environmental consequences for the region's fragile ecosystems in the event of an oil spill.

The Norwegian government claims that the Norwegian oil and gas sector maintains exceptionally high environmental and safety standards.