(Wojciech Moskwa/Reuters, 14 January 2010) -- OSLO - An industry-backed survey published on Thursday shows most Norwegians favor an impact study that could pave the way to open a pristine, fish-rich Arctic area to oil activities and prolong Norway's energy boom. The oil industry says the waters near the Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands in the Arctic now have the most prospects off Norway and must be tapped to prolong the North Sea state's oil bonanza as output from mature oilfields declines. Environmentalists say that any spill in the unspoiled region would be disastrous for its diverse eco-system, which includes unique cold water reefs, pods of sperm whales and killer whales, some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe as well as being the spawning grounds of the largest cod stock in the world. A number of opinion polls over past months suggest that Norwegians are split nearly down the middle on Arctic drilling and the issue was a major theme in last year's general election. The survey by pollster Synovate, carried out for the oil industry lobby group OLF, shows that seven out of 10 Norwegians want the authorities to conduct an impact study of how oil and gas exploration would affect the Lofoten region. "For us, this is a confirmation of our position that the impact assessment is reasonable," OLF chief Gro Braekken said in a statement publishing the results of the survey. Two small parties in the government — the Socialist Left and the Center Party — are against drilling, but the main Labour Party has not yet made up its mind.
Posted 17 January 2010; 12:49:40 AM. Permalink