Statoil back in court over oil sands project

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Jubilation over a major new oil discovery by Norwegian oil company Statoil this week overshadowed less positive news concerning Statoil’s controversial involvement in an oil/tar sands project in Alberta, Canada.

A recent protest against Statoil's oil sands project in Canada, in front of the Norwegian Parliament. PHOTO: Views and News

Statoil has been charged with several violations of water usage at the site south of Fort McMurray in Alberta, and was called back into court this week for another hearing. News bureau NTB reported that it remained unclear whether the case would go to trial or whether Statoil, which faces millions of Canadian dollars in fines, would agree to pay a settlement.

Critics of the oil sands project claim it undermines official Norwegian policies regarding the environment. Extraction of oil from the sands of northern Alberta is viewed by environmentalists as a messy and destructive process that also boosts carbon emissions. Author Sidsel Mørck wrote in a critical commentary in newspaper Dagsavisen this week that Statoil’s oil sands project has confiscated huge areas of land for roads and waste dams, driven indigenous people off their lands, demanded enormous water resources and created “extraordinary” carbon emissions.

Statoil has justified its involvement in the oil sands project, also called tar sands, by saying the world still needs oil, and company officials have claimed they are operating in an environmentally responsible manner. Critics continue to bash the project as unnecessary and embarrassing for Norway’s environmental reputation, however, and want Statoil to pull out. New oil discoveries at home in Norway may add fuel to their arguments.

Views and News staff