Posted on July 31, 2021
Greenland’s green government has announced a ban on oil exploration in its region, marking a turning point in the country’s economic and climate policy. A bill banning uranium mining is also being considered. Two decisions that are particularly inspired by the fight against the destruction of the environment while the region holds valuable resources.
This is an unprecedented decision for such a prestigious sector. Greenland, under the Danish flag, proclaimed in mid-July “Suspend the current oil strategy and end future oil exploration in Greenland”. According to the American Geophysical Institute, more than a fifth of undiscovered hydrocarbon reserves lie north of the Arctic Circle. They represent 13% of the world’s petroleum resources. Thus there will be 51 billion barrels of oil in Greenlandic waters.
But the green government is ready to sidestep the exploitation of its resources. He puts forward two elements. First, the low profitability of oil exploration. “A new economic analysis of the profitability of oil exploration (in Greenland) clearly shows that while profitability is low, yields are actually twice as low as oil companies expected”, the local government, says Nalakkarsuisut. Then, the climate and its impact on the environment. “It is a logical step, as the government is taking the climate crisis seriously. The decision was also taken in the interest of our nature, in the interest of our fisheries and to focus our economy on real possibilities.” Raw Materials Minister Naja Nathanielsen said.
“Business activities should take care of the environment”
This decision is above all symbolic. If these huge reserves attracted oil companies, then exploration in Greenland was already halted in recent years. The main offshore exploration campaign led by Scottish Cairn Energy around 2010–2011 resulted in no discoveries and two oil strategies presented by previous governments from 2014 had “failed” to attract companies.
And the government does not intend to stop there. In line with his election promise, he is currently consulting on the adoption of a bill banning the exploration and exploitation of uranium in Greenland. “The people of Greenland have based their livelihoods on the country’s natural resources for centuries, and the ban on uranium mining is rooted in the deep belief that commercial activities must take both nature and the environment into account”, refers to the government.
While it may rely on a solid fishing sector, the Arctic region remains largely dependent on Danish subsidies to make ends meet. New resources from raw materials will facilitate the independence of the vast Arctic island, which is populated by just 56,000 inhabitants for more than 2 million km2. The new government has not closed the doors for mining projects other than uranium and oil.
Marina Fabre, @fabre_marina with AFP
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