Sunday

25th Jun 2017

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.

"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.

Trust is 'gold' in digital age

Trust is perhaps the most important resource and the key to building successes, but new Nordic research indicates that challenges may lie ahead in the digital age.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit