Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
January 2010

Vol. 15, No. 4 Week of January 24, 2010

Our Arctic Neighbors: Norwegians want more study of Lofoten area

Oil industry association thinks it’s good news that a majority would like to research the petroleum potential of far northern waters

Sarah Hurst

For Petroleum News

Norwegians have a positive attitude toward the oil and gas industry and most would like to see more petroleum studies in the controversial Lofoten area, according to a new survey conducted by global market research company Synovate for the Norwegian Oil Industry Association. The association published the results of the survey in a release Jan. 14.

Eight out of 10 respondents said they believe that the oil and gas industry will have major significance for society and business development in northern Norway. Seven out of 10 want more petroleum studies in the Lofoten area, which is a thriving fishery and currently closed to drilling. Seismic studies have been conducted in the Lofoten area over the past few years, but the results remain confidential. A new management plan for the area will be presented this year, and the issue has the potential to break up the coalition government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

“It is quite natural that the majority want knowledge on the table,” said Gro Braekken, the head of the association. “The study shows clearly that Norwegians want to know more about the consequences of oil and gas activities outside Lofoten and Vesteralen. We are also pleased that people agree the activities will make a positive contribution to society and business development,” she added.

Center Party opposes EIS

The leader of Norway’s Center Party, Liv Signe Navarsete, said recently that she opposed conducting an environmental impact statement for the Lofoten area.

“As a responsible politician Navarsete should contribute to enhancing knowledge of the country’s main industry rather than being anxious to shut the door to future value creation,” Braekken said.

“For 40 years the Norwegian oil and gas industry has contributed to increased welfare for the individual Norwegian, innovative employment opportunities and world-class technology development,” Braekken continued. “We must continue to build on the knowledge we have built up in order to ensure that also in the future Norway will be the world’s best country for each and every one of us to live in.”

The study also found that 85 percent of the Norwegian population has a very good or fairly good impression of the oil and gas industry. Almost as many believe that the industry has given Norwegians a higher standard of living.

“We can see that people are proud of what Norway has achieved as an oil and gas nation,” Braekken said. “At the same time we are experiencing a debate, not least among key politicians, in which the industry will be talked down. The fact is that oil and gas will be an important energy source for many, many years ahead. ... Our country needs the ability to exploit the resources we have in the best possible way.”

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