Norway bars arctic oil drilling in pristine Lofoten islands

16 January 2018

Fossil Free Europe victory for Norway

The Norwegian government has announced that the arctic Lofoten islands will be protected against oil and gas drilling for at least the next four years. This marks a significant victory for a Fossil Free Europe.

In the new government coalition agreement signed Sunday afternoon between Norway’s Conservative, Progress and Liberal parties, it was announced that there will be no oil and gas drilling in the pristine Lofoten area. This is an important success for Naturvernforbundet/Friends of the Earth Norway who have fought to protect the area for more than 20 years.

Silje Lundberg, head of Naturvernforbundet/Friends of the Earth Norway said:
“This is a big win for the Norwegian people and the planet. For years the majority of Norwegians have been against oil drilling in these pristine areas and the Norwegian government has an international responsibility to protect and preserve this unique and fragile ecosystem. Since 2001 we’ve fought Big Oil six times, and won every single time, and I don’t think we’ll ever see an oil rig in operation around the Lofoten islands again

“Now the fight continues on other fossil battlegrounds along the Norwegian coast. Public awareness of the impacts of oil and gas is growing, and it’s time the Norwegian government realises it must leave the oil in the ground.”

For more than 20 years, the oil industry has been battling for control of this region, but resistance from local communities, municipality governments, fishers and environmental groups has managed to protect the areas.

Due to its uniquely rich biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, oil drilling around the Lofoten Islands in Norway could have devastating impacts on an area that hosts unique cold-water reefs, huge numbers of seabirds, and pods of sperm and killer whales.

The area is estimated to hold 1,3 billion barrels of oil which would lead to more than 500 million tons of CO2-emissions if burned – 10 times Norway’s annual GHG emissions.

Colin Roche, Fossil Free campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
“Saving Norway’s pristine Lofoten islands from drilling for fossil fuels is a brilliant victory for the Fossil Free movement. This victory shows the tide is turning against new oil and gas and brings us one step closer to a fossil free Europe and a safer climate.”