Statoil’s chief executive, Helge Lund, still wants to pursue oil and gas exploration off the coast of Lofoten and Vesterålen, even after other opportunities have opened up in the Barents Sea. Agreement on a new Barents border with Russia isn’t diverting Statoil’s attention from its controversial Lofoten plans.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) caught up with Lund in New York, just a day after Norway and Russia finally came to terms on a borderline through the Barents and into the Arctic. The agreement opens up a huge new area where Norway will have the rights to its resources.
That prompted some officials, including a former oil and energy minister, to predict that opportunities in the Barents will take the pressure off Lofoten, where environmental groups and several political parties firmly opposed oil and gas exploration. Statoil CEO Lund, indicates the pressure will remain.
“There’s no point in setting the two up against each other,” Lund told DN before speaking at the United Nations on climate issues. He thinks the offshore areas around scenic Lofoten and Vesterålen are every bit as promising now as they were before the border agreement was reached.
And he indicated he has no intention of giving up his campaign to open up Lofoten and Vesterålen for oil and gas activity.
“In those areas there has been exploration and there’s known geology,” Lund said. “In the Barents there’s been little seismic exploration.”
He does think the Barents can be promising as well, though, Statoil is involved in Russia’s planned development of the Barents’ Stockman field, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev invited Statoil during his state visit earlier this week to take part in another field in the north, the Prirazlomnoye.
“That’s good news for Statoil,” said Lund, who met Medvedev during the Russian leader’s Oslo visit (PicApp photo — Lund at right, talking to Medvedev, with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in the middle.).
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