StatoilHydro pressures government to open up Lofoten Islands

StatoilHydro has called on the Norwegian government to offer access to the Lofoten Islands in the Barents Sea for oil and gas development.

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

LONDON, June 12 -- StatoilHydro has called on the Norwegian government to offer access to the Lofoten Islands in the Barents Sea for oil and gas development.

Speaking at a public meeting in Svolvaer, Lofoten, StatoilHydro Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said the industry could cooperate with fishing interests and address the concerns of environmentalists worried about the impact of oil drilling and production.

With the maturing Norwegian Continental Shelf, oil companies are aggressively pushing for development of the seas around the Lofoten Islands, but the government has ring fenced the area, stating that a decision on access will be taken after the general election in September.

The community on the Lofoten Islands relies upon fishing and tourism for its livelihood as it has cod and herring stocks and the world's biggest cold water coral reef, which was only discovered in 2002, according to World Wildlife Foundation.

Lund said discoveries on the Nordland Blocks VI and VII in the area could be brought onshore via pipeline provided it was technically and economically viable.

He stressed the locals could have jobs and income from a partnership with the oil industry, adding that StatoilHydro would welcome applications from smaller companies forming an alliance to submit tenders for maintenance and modification work.

Lund assured fisherman that there would be stricter regulation of seismic work in this area. The number of operators shooting seismic should be limited along with the period and acreage given. “In addition, several years should pass between each time that seismic data is gathered from the same area,” Lund added.

"If it is not possible to reach agreement through such measures, various compensatory schemes should also be considered," Lund told the meeting.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

More in Exploration & Development