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4 Jan 2018

Mikael Holter, Bloomberg

Norway Beats Back Lawsuit Seeking to Curb Arctic Oil Drilling

The government acted lawfully in awarding exploration licenses in the Arctic Barents Sea to companies such as Statoil ASA and Chevron Corp. in 2016, Oslo District Court said in a ruling... 

...The result “was as expected, in the sense that our view has been that there have been good processes with regards to the 23rd licensing round, in line with the legislation,” Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Soviknes said in an interview Thursday.

...“Some issues that the environmental organizations have raised fall outside what was tried by the court,” according to the ruling. “Whether Norway is doing enough for the environment and climate, and if it was sensible to open fields so far north and east” are questions “better assessed through political processes,” the court said.

... Analysts said the suit was a long-shot, but that it could be a stepping stone to further legal challenges, which Greenpeace cited as one objective.

...The courtroom battle unfolded against a backdrop of growing skepticism toward the oil industry and, especially, its Arctic exploration...The country’s $1 trillion wealth fund, built from its offshore riches, last year proposed dumping oil and gas stocks to limit risks.Yet at the same time, Norway has pushed for more exploration in the Barents Sea, which is thought to hold half of the country’s undiscovered resources.