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Oil drilling stopped, Lofoten islands, Norway


Lofoten is an archipelago in northwestern Norway. It is a highly biodiverse area that holds cold-water reefs, pods of sperm whales and killer whales. It has some of the largest colonies of seabirds in Europe and it is the spawning grounds of the largest remaining cod stock in the world (1). It is also on the tentative list of Unesco (4).

In 1994, the Norwegian government gave permission to Norwegian state enterprises Statoil and Hydro for oil exploration around Lofoten. Ever since then, environmental organisations and fishery organisations have protested against continued proposals to drill for oil in this highly sensitive ecosystem. (2) The Norwegian government have, several times, put the exploration for oil in the area on hold thanks to continuing strong protests. The last time was during 2013 and the hold is for 4 years. In 2017 the topic will once more be brought up to discussion, and the resistance against the exploration continues (1, 3).

UPDATE. By 6 April 2019, Mikael Holter (Bloomberg) reported that a shift in the position of the Labor Part towards greenery and the alarm at climate change had meant that a stinging blow had been dealto to Norway’s oil industry. The Labor Party, the country’s biggest force in Parliament and a long-time backer of the industry, had decided stop pushing for oil exploration offshore the sensitive Lofoten islands. The move made oil production in the area even more unlikely than it already is, and adds uncertainty about how much support the industry can expect from Norwegian politicians in the future. Labor’s shift, announced by party leader Jonas Gahr Store, illustrates an internal rift between a rising climate wing and the country’s biggest worker union, a key backer of the party. The move makes sure there’s a solid majority in parliament to keep Lofoten off limits.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Oil drilling stopped, Lofoten islands, Norway
Location of conflict:Vestvågøy
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The oil around Lofoten has been estimated to be worth approximately 15,3 billion dollars (4).

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1994
Company names or state enterprises:Statoil from Norway - state-owned company
Norsk Hydro from Norway
Relevant government actors:Norweigian ministry of Environment, Norweigian ministry of Petroleum and Energy
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth, the Friends of the Earth youth organization of Norway),, Greenpeace,, Folkeaksjonen,, Youth Arctic Coalition,, Fältbiologerna,

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Recreational users
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Oil spills
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Moratoria
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:No oil drilling in Lofoten (or the Arctic)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The Norwegian government has put explorations of potential oil extraction in the Lofoten area on hold for the coming 4 years. In 2017 the decision will be discussed further. It is was early then to say that Lofoten is long-term protected against oil exploration. However bt 2019 it seems that the issues has been settled: no oil from Lofoten.

Sources & Materials

(2) Kampen – Kort historisk tilbakeblikk,

(3) A victory in Norway!

(4) Kampen om Lofoten, Fokus, 2009/07,

Oljeborrningen måste få ett slut, Sveriges Television,

Splittrad syn på olja från Lofoten, SvD Näringsliv,

Vi Jublar! Ingen oljeborrning i Lofoten!, Fältbiologerna,

(1) Norway: Oil drilling put on hold

Norway’s new Government drops Lofoten oil, Barents Observer,

Forvaltningsplanen for Barentshavet – Lofoten,

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Nick Clark, Al Jazeera,13 May 2019.Saving Lofoten Islands: Norway's turn towards biodiversity


Meta information

Contributor:Linda Dubec
Last update31/01/2020



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