Norway's parliament on Tuesday told the government to consider an alternative way to cut carbon emissions at Western Europe's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, but stopped short of outright halting a controversial plan to use power from land.
Oil firm Equinor and partners are seeking approval to replace the use of gas at the plant with power from the national grid, and thus reduce its emissions. The site is one of Norway's largest single emitters of carbon dioxide.
In a unanimous vote, parliament ordered the minority government to assess carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an alternative to electrification by 2029, even though Equinor has said this would be too expensive.
However, parliament followed a recommendation from the energy committee to reject proposals that would have seen any outright stop or delay to the electrification project.
Lawmakers had debated the topic in depth last week.
The project is contentious with locals due to its perceived clash with green industry development, rising power prices as well as the rights of Indigenous Sami reindeer herders.
With Norwegians heading to the polls in local elections later this year, the Melkoeya plan has become a top concern for voters in the region and the opposition is seeking to capitalise on poor ratings for the minority center-left government.
Equinor's partners at the plant are TotalEnergies TTEF.PA, Wintershall Dea, Neptune Energy and Norwegian-state-owned firm Petoro.
(Reuters - Reporting by Nora Buli, editing by Terje Solsvik)