Saturday

17th Nov 2018

Focus

After the oil: Norway seeks new fortunes at sea

Norway is aware that its oil, a font of wealth and prosperity for decades, will not last forever. They are looking for a new bounty in the seas to the north, where climate change is making resources ever easier to reach.

Some 2,000 officials, scientists and business leaders gathered at the annual Arctic Frontiers conference in the northern city of Tromsoe this week to hear how a new Norwegian oceans strategy, to be launched later this year, will pave the way.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We have so far only utilised a fraction of the blue economy," conservative foreign minister Boerge Brende told EUobserver.

"The new maritime strategy will look at new opportunities for growth from the sea. The economy in our Arctic regions is already growing faster than the economy in the rest of Norway."

Brende, a former director with the World Economic Forum, pointed out that Norway had built up an "aqua-culture" in the past three decades, making farmed fish the country's largest export after oil and gas.

Fisheries minister Per Sandberg told the conference that much of the sea remained unexplored, suggesting the oceans could provide untapped resources of food, energy and medicine for the world's growing population.

"Today, only five percent of the world's food comes from the seas," he said.

"We now know that food from the sea is more climate-friendly food compared to meat, so it's no wonder that a better use of the seas forms part of the UN's goals for sustainable development."

Sturla Henriksen, CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners Association, explained that there were huge metal and mineral deposits under the seabed in the Arctic and on land throughout the region.

"When the ice melts in the ocean, these resources at sea become more accessible, and when the permafrost disappears from the land, the land-based infrastructure - roads, railways - will be less reliable, so you need to sail," he said.

"The climate makes the major rivers of the Russian Arctic - Ob, Yenisei, Lena - more open to maritime traffic. Also, we expect more freight traffic between Asia and Europe on the Arctic waterways."

"Some 90 percent of world trade is still done at sea, and you save one-third of the voyage by sailing north of Russia instead of sailing through the Suez."

Offshore responsibility

Norway's management of fisheries and oil has fostered a measure of trust in Norway’s ability to chase the new wealth offshore responsibly.

Since 1975, Norway and Russia have jointly fostered sustainable fishing in the Barents Sea, and the oil and gas industry in Norway is known as the strictest regulated worldwide.

Head of the Arctic states’ Senior Arctic Officials US ambassador David Balton told EUobserver: "If anyone can do it safely, then it must be Norwegians."

Norwegian officials eagerly nurture this reputation. They highlight, for instance, Norway’s oil and gas as a stable source of energy for the rest of Europe - particularly in times of trouble.

Yet professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in the US, claims that Norway’s continued hunt for oil in the Arctic will be both a waste of money and devastating for the planet, his words falling on deaf ears from Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg.

She denies that Norway would serve the climate better by leaving the oil where it is.

Instead, she said that Norway's superior technology means harmful emissions from oil and gas extraction in Norway are significantly lower than emissions from similar processes in places like Saudi Arabia.

Martin Breum is a Danish journalist specialising in Arctic affairs

What Trump means for the Arctic

US air base in Greenand likely to expand, but Obama-era policies on global warming and environmental protection set to be main casualties of Trump rule.

EU's Arctic policy targets environment, Russia

Eight years in the making, the EU's new Arctic strategy focuses on environmental issues and speaks of "selective engagement" with Russia despite the Ukraine war.

'Who rules the world? Riyadh vs. Bergen'

Nordic leaders have pitted their vision of greener economies, gender equality, and sustainable food and welfare against the fossil fuel world order.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us