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Norway offers oil companies 93 new blocks in Arctic waters

Norway appears to be ticking all the right boxes in preventing climate change. The country wants to to replace gasoline-fueled cars with electric cars, plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 and is helping poorer countries reduce their carbon footprints by giving them billions of dollars. In the meantime, it’s pushing ever farther into the Arctic Ocean drilling more oil.

Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced last week that it was offering a total of 102 blocks up for exploration in the 24th licensing round on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Of the total, 93 blocks to be awarded are in the Barents Sea, entirely in the Arctic Circle, with applications by companies expected by the end of November.

The move to open up areas in the Arctic, defying all environmental objections, was met with dismay by environmentalists.

Nina Jensen, head of the World Wildlife Fund in Norway, said:

It’s just a perfect example of the dichotomy of Norway as a leading environment nation. We are telling everybody else what to do. But for us, it’s not even business as usual; it’s escalating business as usual. Some of the blocks had become ice-free only because of climate change. The government’s response is not to lose sleep but to look at how quickly we can get in there to find more oil and gas. It’s shameful. Future generations will look back and say: what the hell were you thinking?

In March this year, the Petroleum Ministry said that it would announce the final blocks in June this year after a public consultation with local communities, environmental groups, and regulators. Petroleum Minister Terje Søviknes said in the statement.

New exploration acreage promotes long-term activity, value creation and profitable employment in the petroleum industry across the country.

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