Called for by Ministers Urmas Paet and Sirpa Pietikainen, majority of the European Parliament legislators had voted against a non-binding motion that bans oil drilling in the Arctic.
The motion was made after Norway announced to speed up its campaign in striking oil in the Arctic. Basically, the country revealed that it plans to open more than a hundred blocks in the region’s waters for hydrocarbon exploration this year, driven by industry forecasts stating that oil prices will increase as high as $70 per barrel by the end of 2020.
This black gold rush has brought new interest not only from Norway, but also from multinational oil companies. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the Arctic could be holding as much as 30% of the undiscovered natural gas reserves in the world. Now, companies are keen to tap its vast energy wealth. In particular, Statoil could already be in the works of developing the region’s largest discovered oil field, known as the Korpfjell.
However, oil drilling in the Arctic does not come without any challenges. Eurasia Group senior analyst Emily Stromquist said:
“In addition to price, environmental protests have been a huge impediment for Arctic projects. Regulatory hurdles from governments and environmental protests are two of the biggest hurdles for companies involved in the Arctic, in addition to basis break even costs.”
Nevertheless, this is expected to change with US President Donald Trump making it clear that he wants to open up his country’s energy potential for investment—a plan that includes the Arctic. With the approval of this project, an Arctic rush could be opened up to the world.
Currently, Norway, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and the US are each having a claim on the region.