Thursday

23rd May 2019

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. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Opinion

It is high time to exclude Fidesz from the EPP

"We have made our choice: we choose democracy and rule of law," write the leaders of the National Coalition Party in Finland and the Moderate Party in Sweden.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us