Conflict between Norway’s fishing and oil industries amid new oil and gas finds.

One outcome of the rising oil prices has been the stimulation of oil exploration in an effort to cash in on the boom times. It was inevitable that there would be some conflict between fishing interests and those pursuing oil exploration activities and this is the case in Norway.

Nina Berglund of the Norwegian newspaper the Aftenposten reports that conflict has broken out between the two groups, with fishermen complaining that exploration vessels have offered them bribes to leave the disputed areas and that the oil related activities are scaring away fish stocks that were previously plentiful.

The Scandinavian Oil-Gas Magazine reported on February 13 that “four Norwegian seismic ships face police hearings after coming into conflict with fishermen, in the long simmering dispute over the alleged harmful effects of geophysical surveys undersea life.” The fishermen are turning to the police for assistance because they feel that their concerns are not being heard by the authorities.

Prosecutor Terje Gjertsen of the Sogn og Fjordane police district says “it’s a special case, and apparently unique in Norway.” He confirmed that the four seismic firms reported are Norwegian-owned, and that police are investigating.

The determination to search for new sources of oil and gas goes on however, especially as oil prices again reached $100-per-barrel this week. The high oil prices of the past few years have led to an economic boom in Norway and new discoveries continue to be made.

In fact StatoilHydro reported yesterday that it has made an oil discovery due southwest of the Grane field in the North Sea, estimated to represent 20-30 million recoverable barrels of oil. Tim Dodson, director of exploration in Exploration and production Norway said that the find is a continuation of the good start to exploration activities on the Norwegian continental shelf in 2008. This find is the fourth discovery StatoilHydro have been involved in so far this year he said.

Additionally, Italy’s explorer ENI has “a giant gas find” in Afrodite in the North Sea off Norway and although details have not been officially released as yet, the find is thought to be significant.

As the exploration increases, there will be competing interests that need to be weighed. While oil prices remain high, the economics will probably favour the oil companies. However, as companies are made accountable through the need to purchase carbon offsets, market forces will reflect the true cost of these ventures and correction will occur. This will need to occur for emissions caused by fishing vessels as well. It will be interesting to see whether the conflict between the two industries will escalate as exploration increases and how governments will deal with these.

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~ by abstraktbiblos on Thursday, 21 February, 2008.

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