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European Parliament Rejects Motion To Totally Ban Arctic Drilling

The European Parliament rejected on Thursday a proposal to call upon the European Union to work for a total ban of oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.

The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted 414 to 180 to reject a non-binding motion calling for the member states and the European Commission to work with international organizations towards “a future total ban on the extraction of Arctic oil and gas”.

The legislators, however, backed language that said that they “call for a ban on ‘oil drilling in the icy Arctic waters of the EU and the EEA’ as the use of fossil fuels will further accelerate climate change,” the European Parliament said in a press release. MEPs also reiterated their 2014 call to halt the use of heavy fuel oil in maritime transport on the Arctic sea.

The language of the resolution to include “icy” in Arctic waters is a victory for Norway, which has been lobbying to remove wording such as “total ban”, and has already banned exploration in ‘icy’ Arctic waters.

Earlier this week, Norway’s government announced initial plans to open a record number of oil exploration blocks in the Barents Sea, sparking renewed criticism from environmental groups. Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is proposing 102 blocks in the 24th licensing round, of which nine blocks are in the Norwegian Sea, and a record-high 93 blocks – in the Barents Sea. A considerable number of the blocks proposed in the Barents Sea are located north of the northernmost oil discovery in Norway.

Related: Saudi Arabia Tries To Reassure Markets After Oil Price Plunge

And while Canada and the U.S. ban Arctic drilling for oil and gas, motivated by environmental concerns, Nordic energy companies are planning to increase drilling in Norway’s Arctic shelf in the Barents Sea, especially since the price rise has been accompanied by a major discovery for Lundin and a likely future major discovery for Statoil.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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