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Norway's supreme court confirms governments plans for Arctic oil exploration

24 Dec 2020

The Supreme Court of Norway has upheld governments plans for Arctic oil exploration. The court ruled that ten exploration licenses in the Arctic awarded in 2016 did not violate Norway’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. In November 2020, The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy launched its 25th oil exploration licencing round, which comprises 9 areas, including 8 in the Arctic Barents Sea and 1 in the Norwegian Sea. The government will tender 136 new oil exploration blocks, with 125 in the Arctic Barents Sea.

In June 2020, Norway extended its forbidden area for oil exploration in the country’s Arctic waters (so-called ice edge boundary). The new limit is located where sea ice appeared 15% of the time in April from 1988 to 2017, whereas the previous boundary was based on 30% probability and the years between 1967 and 1989. The new line remains sufficiently far north and doesn't affect existing explorations licences.

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