The Norwegian Ministry of Environment will in April present a report, which will lay the foundation for the future management of the Lofoten waters, the oil-rich and environmentally vulnerable areas off northern Norway
Norway in 2006 adopted its management plan for the Barents Sea and the Lofoten waters. The plan opened up for exploration in parts of the Barents Sea, but banned drilling in the vulnerable and oil-rich Lofoten area.
Now a revised plan, the draft of which will be presented in April, might change the situation and open the Lofoten waters, as well as vast new areas in the Norwegian and Barents Sea, for the oil industry.
Mr. Bjørn Rasen, information adviser in the Petroleum Directorate (NPD), confirms to Offshore.no that the work with the revised plan is on schedule. The Directorate will complete its recommendations in the course of March, and a report will be presented to the public by the Ministry of Environment on 15 April this year. That report will subsequently be distributed for public hearings and a Parliament Report will be ready in early 2011.
As BarentsObserver has reported, the Norwegian oil industry is currently pushing hard on government, as well as the public, for a rapid opening of the promising areas. The Lofoten areas alone hide resources, which will give new growth in Norwegian oil production and billion dollars of extra state revenues, the industry maintains.
Meanwhile, the Lofoten plans are met with harsh resistance from environmentalists and parts of the fish industry. Both groups have also expressed strong dislike with the ongoing seismic mapping of the area. As BarentsObserver reported, the Petroleum Directorate in 2009 collected more than 2000 square kilometers of seismic data from the Lofoten and Vesterålen waters.
A new study on the mapping shows that the seismic activities do stress fish in the area, but that they do not harm the stocks, NRK reports.