Norway has issued 62 new licenses for oil and gas production, sparking protests from environmental organizations. 29 licenses were awarded in the North Sea, 25 in the Norwegian Sea and eight in the Barents Sea, the government announced today. Oslo has not granted so many licenses at once in already developed areas of financing for several years. In 2022, only 47 licenses were issued.
The granting of the new licenses is important for creating jobs and value in the Norwegian oil and gas industry and “also facilitates Norway's role as a stable energy supplier to Europe”, said Energy Minister Terje Aasland. Since the war in Ukraine, Norway has replaced Russia as Europe's largest supplier of natural gas and is also a major oil producer.
NGOs criticize Norwegian government
Environmental groups criticized the new licenses. The World Climate Conference, held in Dubai in December, agreed to a phase-out of coal, oil and gas, said Friends of the Earth Norway president Truls Gulowsen.
Norway is now doing “exactly the opposite” and will potentially continue to cause greenhouse gas emissions with the new permits for “many decades to come”. WWF criticized the government for “drag[ing]the country further into oil dependence.”
The new licenses were awarded to 24 companies, including Norwegian groups Equinor and Aker BP, as well as oil and gas giants such as TotalEnergies and Shell. The Norwegian Ministry of Energy also gave the green light to the development of the Eirin gas field in the North Sea, a joint project between Equinor and Kuwait's KUFPEC.