The oil company Wintershall DEA has sent its exploration rig south, away from the oil platform sooner than planned. Bellona’s founder and general manager Frederic Hauge takes this as a sure sign that no oil reserves were discovered after all. “We can see the rig moving south and that there’s no flaring of gas which has been observed by fishermen in this area that we’ve been in contact with”, Hauge says.
The oil industry’s dream for a big oil discovery in the Træarevet well near Lofoten island has been shattered.
“A discovery in that area would have probably led to other oil activities opening up in Lofoten as well”, Hauge says. It has been less than a month since Bellona and Nature and Youth took action by trying to block the project on the West Hercules rig just when the exploration drilling was about to start. “This is great news for all of us who have been working to protecting one of our most vulnerable natural resources in Lofoten, Vesterålen, Senja and Træna.
Requirements for long-lasting protection of Lofoten
By 2020, the protection plan for Lofoten and the Barents Sea will be revised. The Norwegian Forum for Academic Forums has proposed to label the area around Træna as particularly valuable and vulnerable as it plays an important role for the Lofoten ecosystem.
“As a result of this drilling, it should be easier to make Træna part of the protection plan for Lofoten and the Barents Sea, so that fish, birds and corals receive the necessary protection in the future”, says Hauge.
Bellona expects that the revision of the protection plan will result in no more licenses to be awarded for oil drills in these highly vulnerable areas.
Hauge urges that the “Minister for Climate and Environment Elvestuen”, who allowed the drilling, “should now focus on working on the protection plan and ensure that this type of threatening activity should no longer be possible in Lofoten”.
Drilling a CO2 storage well
West Hercules is now headed to the Northern Lights location to drill a well for CO2 storage. Hauge concludes that “this is an example of how Norway should use the oil industry’s resources so that it can be part of the solution rather than the problem.”