April 24, 2020 / 10:56 AM / a month ago

Norwegian government proposes further restriction on Arctic oil drilling

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s minority government proposed on Friday moving south the so-called ice edge, setting new limits for oil exploration in its Arctic waters, though stopping short of affecting exploration licenses already granted to oil companies.

The ice edge is a legally drawn boundary that is meant to approximate the constantly changing southern fringe of the permanent ice sheet. Anything north of that legal line is off-limits to oil drilling under Norwegian law.

The new line would be drawn further south of the existing line, thus restricting future governments from opening new areas for oil exploration.

Still, the new line is north enough that it does not affect exploration licenses already granted to energy companies.

“It’s a good compromise,” Oil and Energy Minister Tina Bru told a news conference.

The new line is drawn at where sea ice appeared 15% of the time in April, its maximum winter extent, during the period from 1988 to 2017, while the previous line was based on 30% probability.

The coalition government of Prime Minister Erna Solberg rules in a minority so the proposal needs to be accepted by a majority in parliament.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche

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