Estimate that Oover Half of Norwegian Oil and Gas Left Unexplored Prompts Debate on Fossil Fuels

Norway has long been one of the world’s leaders in exports of energy resources. While over the decades, the oil and gas revenues have been the foundation for the so-called Oil Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, demands for a complete halt in oil and gas exploration have of late permeated the country’s political debate.
More than half of the oil and gas on the Norwegian shelf is yet to be found, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has said in a recent assessment, giving new hope to the industry amid a nascent green switch and demands from several parties to abandon seeking new oil fields.
To this, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru of the ruling Conservative Party, said that while estimates of the remaining oil resources are important, there is no goal to milk the Norwegian shelf dry.
“What will determine whether you pick up more from the Norwegian continental shelf will be that there are profitable resources that the companies can prove and that they are able to expand at a price that will stand up in the market”, Bru told the national broadcaster NRK. At the same time, she emphasised that burning fossil fuel releases greenhouse gas emissions.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) previously sent shockwaves through the Norwegian oil and gas industry, still the backbone of the country’s economy, by stating that the world had to stop looking for more oil if it were to prevent the planet from heating above 1.5 degrees. The IEA also forecast that the demand for oil and gas would increase until the middle of the 2030s, whereupon it will flatten out.
This made the future of oil and gas drilling one of the key issues of the looming election campaign. While some parties, like the Greens, came forth with an “oil ultimatum”, making a total stop on oil exploration a prerequisite for government collaboration, the nation’s political heavyweights have taken a more moderate approach.
The Labour Party leader, currently heavily tipped as favourite Jonas Gahr Støre, has no plans to announce an oil stop. Nor does he believe the time is ripe for a so-called green shift.
“We are against an end date. Our attitude is that we should develop, not wind up that industry, because it is on its shoulders we build new jobs. An artificial break with an end date removes professionals, investments, and the opportunity to develop the technologies we need”, Støre told NRK.
Trond Omdal of the Norwegian oil company Okea said he believed “in another 50 years for the oil and gas age in Norway”. “The world still needs oil and gas”, he said.
Nordea analyst Thina Saltvedt ventured that oil and gas may become even more profitable in the future.
“If there are no changes as they are today, then it is clear that then the oil price will probably stay higher. And then it can be profitable to produce oil and gas”, she said. At the same time, she said that a political tightening is not to be ruled out.
Norway is one of the world’s leaders in exports of energy resources, covering about 2 percent of global oil demand and 3 percent of natural gas demand. These oil and gas revenues have been the foundation for the so-called Oil Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

About Parvin Faghfouri Azar

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