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Norway Holds Firm on Oil Drilling Ban in Protected Region

Norway will keep the Nordland county area of the stunning Lofoten and Vesterålen islands off limits for oil and gas exploration and production, Energy Minister Terje Aasland said on Wednesday. 

A series of left and right-wing Norwegian governments have been protecting the area from oil and gas drilling for more than 20 years. 

“We won't open that area, there are more than enough other areas available to develop the oil and gas industry in a responsible way,” Aasland told Norway’s Parliament today, as carried by Reuters

Earlier this week, the opposition Conservative Party said it wanted to allow energy companies to explore for oil and gas in the so-called Nordland 6 area. 

But the energy minister reiterated that the offshore area of the Arctic county will continue to be off limits for drilling. 

“This area is protected against (oil and gas) activity,” Aasland said.

Norway expanded other areas to drilling activities earlier this month. 

Norway is expanding the acreage in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, for which companies vying for licenses in mature areas can bid this year, the energy ministry of Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer said in early May. 

Following the energy ministry’s announcement, the annual rounds of awards in predefined areas (APA), which give oil companies the opportunity to gain access to attractive acreage in the mature areas of the Norwegian shelf, will include a further 37 blocks—three in the northwest of the Norwegian Sea and 34 blocks in the eastern Barents Sea.  

APA is Norway’s annual licensing round that covers the mature areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.


“We need further exploration to make new discoveries that, in turn, pave the way for investments to maintain production. This is important to safeguard jobs, income for the community and Europe's energy security,” Aasland said at the time. 

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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