Environmental Groups Ask Norway Court to Halt Three Oil Developments

Breidablikk - Credit: Equinor
Breidablikk - Credit: Equinor

Environmental groups said on Thursday they had demanded an immediate halt to the ongoing development of three Norwegian offshore oilfields, seeking a court injunction against the country's government.

Greenpeace and Nature and Youth said they had asked the Oslo District Court to put on hold the development of Equinor's Breidablikk and Aker BP's Yggdrasil and Tyrving fields, arguing the government had failed to assess their climate impact.

"Their recent approvals violate the Norwegian constitution and Norway's international human rights commitments, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child," the two environmental groups said in a statement.

Norway's energy ministry, Equinor and Aker BP did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Norway is western Europe's largest oil producing nation and the biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe, and the government says its petroleum resources are vital to the continent's energy security.

Greenpeace and Nature and Youth have long sought to get the courts to intervene against Norway's oil and gas production, particularly in the Arctic region, but the Supreme Court in 2020 dismissed a major lawsuit.

 In its ruling, the Supreme Court said, however, that the government was obliged to assess global impacts on the environment from field developments, which green campaigners saw as a positive step.

The global impact assessments for Yggdrasil, Tyrving and Breidablikk were "either non-existent or highly inadequate, rendering the approvals invalid", Greenpeace and Nature and Youth said on Thursday.

"The organisations demand that the development cease until the court has assessed the legal basis," they added.

Breidablikk was approved for development in 2021 and is due to come on stream next year, while Tyrving and Yggdrasil received approvals earlier this month with plans for startups in 2025 and 2027 respectively, according to the operators.

Norway on Wednesday approved the development of another 19 oil and gas fields, with investments in the coming years set to exceed 200 billion Norwegian crowns ($18.52 billion). 

($1 = 10.8017 Norwegian crowns)

(Reuters - Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Anna Ringstrom and Jamie Freed)

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