Move exposes rift in Norway’s Labour party as climate change competes with union concerns
'The largest party in Norway’s parliament has delivered a significant blow to the country’s huge oil industry after withdrawing support for explorative drilling off the Lofoten islands in the Arctic, which are considered a natural wonder.
The move, by the opposition Labour party, creates a large parliamentary majority against oil exploration in the sensitive offshore area, illustrating growing opposition to the polluting fossil fuel, which has made the country one of the world’s most affluent.
The country currently pumps out over 1.6 million barrels of oil a day from its offshore operations.
Norway’s largest oil producer, the state-controlled company Equinor ASA, has said gaining access to oil supplies in Lofoten is essential for the country to maintain production levels.
It is thought there are between 1 billion to 3 billion barrels of oil beneath the seabed off the Lofoten archipelago. The area had already been kept off limits for years by Norway’s coalition government through various political deals.
“The whole industry is surprised and disappointed,” Karl Eirik Schjott-Pedersen, head of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association told Bloomberg. “It does not provide the predictability we depend on.”
Labour’s opposition, announced by its leader, Jonas Gahr Store, exposes a rift in the party as the leadership tries to reflect the population’s rising environmental concerns, while also aiming to support workers’ unions in the oil industry, which have been major backers of the party.
Mr Store said his party would continue to support the oil industry, but has also said he wants oil firms in the country to commit to a deadline for making all operations emissions free.
Norway’s biggest oil union, Industry Energy, which has been a long-time ally of Labour, has attacked the party’s new stance on drilling in Lofoten, which comes less than two years after an internal party compromise on the issue.'
Read more: Norway refuses to drill for billions of barrels of oil in Arctic, leaving ‘whole industry surprised and disappointed’