Historical archive

Updated version of the integrated management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Office of the Prime Minister

Today the Government presented an updated version of the management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area.

Today the Government presented an updated version of the management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area.

“The management plan strikes a good balance between the objective of creating jobs and developing the business sector in North Norway and the need to take fish resources and the environment into account. The Government will maintain oil and gas exploration activities, and will give the oil industry access to areas of potential interest within an environmentally sound framework,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

“The Government has now reviewed the framework for petroleum activities in this area and has decided that during this parliamentary period, no environmental impact assessment will be carried out under the Petroleum Act for Nordland VII, Troms II or the parts of Nordland IV, V and VI that have not been opened for petroleum activities,” said Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.

“We will generate more knowledge of the north-eastern part of the Norwegian Sea, carry out an environmental impact assessment for the southern part of the Barents Sea, and pave the way for petroleum production the areas that have been opened. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will be asked to develop knowledge of the impacts of petroleum activities in the parts of Nordland IV, V, VI, VII and Troms II that have not been opened,” said Mr Stoltenberg.

“I am very pleased that we have presented a sound, up-to-date management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area. The waters off the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands and Senja are considered to be some of the most valuable areas along the coast. No impact assessments will be carried out here, but we will build up more knowledge. All in all, we have found a good balance between environmental considerations and the interests of the petroleum industry,” said Mr Solheim.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the Ministry of the Environment will develop knowledge of the direct and spin-off effects of expanding commercial activities such as tourism and fishery-related enterprises.

“The knowledge acquired will be useful for the next update of the management plan. This work will start soon. It will examine the spin-off effects on society and the business sector and the areas to be studied will be decided in consultation with regional and local authorities,” said Mr Solheim.

In the 2006 management plan, the Government stated that it considered the state of the environment in the Barents Sea–Lofoten area to be generally good, and this is still the case today. The main problems that will have to be dealt with in the period up to 2020 are long-range transboundary pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. In addition, there is a risk of acute oil pollution, and seabird populations are declining.

The framework for petroleum activities
The Government has reviewed the framework for petroleum activities in the Barents Sea–Lofoten area, and the following framework now applies:

1. The north-eastern Norwegian Sea (Nordland I, III, IV, V, VI and VII, and Troms II)

- There will be no petroleum activities in the open parts of Nordland VI during the current parliamentary period. Nor will any new blocks be announced during this period. The need to update the knowledge base for the opened areas will be considered in connection with the development of knowledge about the unopened areas.

- No impact assessment will be carried out under the Petroleum Act for Nordland VII and Troms II or the unopened parts of Nordland IV, V and VI during the current parliamentary period.

- The MAREANO programme is to complete the survey of the Nordland VI seabed in 2011, and then continue with the other areas that have not yet been mapped.

- The SEAPOP programme will complete its survey of seabird populations and intensify monitoring in this area, and improve knowledge of how these populations are affected by human activity.

- The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will build up knowledge about potential impacts of petroleum activities in the unopened parts of Nordland IV, V, VI, VII and Troms II. This knowledge would be useful if it is decided to carry out an impact assessment of petroleum activities in these areas. It will also be useful as a basis for the next update of the management plan. This work will start soon.

It will examine the direct and spin-off effects on society and the business sector of such activities as tourism and fisheries. The topics to be studied will be decided in consultation with regional and local authorities, the authorities in the relevant sectors, and research institutions. It will also be necessary to strengthen knowledge about the petroleum resources in the unopened parts of Nordland IV and V through seismic surveys and the collection of other geological data under the auspices of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and in dialogue with the fisheries industry and the fisheries authorities. The Petroleum Directorate will collate this data and relevant seismic data from Nordland VI, VII and Troms II, and offer data packages for sale.

- The Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the Ministry of the Environment will build up knowledge of the direct and spin-off effects of increased commercial activities, such as tourism and fishery-related enterprises. The knowledge acquired will be useful as a basis for the next update of the management plan. This work will start soon. It will examine the spin-off effects on society and the business sector, and the topics to be studied will be decided in consultation with regional and local authorities.

- The Government will extend the system of awards in pre-defined areas (APA) to include all the blocks in open parts of Nordland I, III, IV and V. This will apply from APA 2011. The environmental and fisheries-related requirements set out in the management plan for the Norwegian Sea will be applicable.

2. The Barents Sea

a) Previously disputed area west of the delimitation line
- When the Treaty concerning Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean has been ratified by both Norway and Russia, the Government will initiate an impact assessment under the Petroleum Act, with a view to granting production licences for the previously disputed area west of the delimitation line in the southern part of the Barents Sea (south of 74°30’ N). If this is justified by the conclusions of the impact assessment, the Government will present a white paper recommending that these areas should be opened for petroleum activity.

- The MAREANO programme will map the seabed in the previously disputed area west of the delimitation line, in accordance with the treaty on maritime delimitation between Norway and Russia.

b) Along the coast of Troms and Finnmark to the Russian border
- No petroleum activities will be initiated in the current parliamentary period within a zone stretching 35 km outwards from the baseline from the Troms II petroleum province along the coast to the Russian border.

- No exploration drilling will be permitted in oil-bearing formations in the zone 35–65 km from the baseline in the period 1 March–31 August.

c) Tromsøflaket bank area
- The restrictions given in 2 b) for the coastal zone also apply to Tromsøflaket.

- No exploration drilling will be permitted in oil-bearing formations on Tromsøflaket outside 65 km from the baseline in the period 1 March – 31 August.

d) The Eggakanten area along the edge of the continental shelf
- There is a general principle that new production licences must include requirements for surveys to identify any coral reefs or other valuable benthic communities that may be affected by petroleum activities and ensure that they are not damaged. This will be particularly strictly applied in the Eggakanten area. In vulnerable areas, special conditions may be included in licences to avoid damage.

e) The marginal ice zone and the polar front
- No petroleum activities will be initiated in the areas along the edge of the marginal ice zone and the polar front in the current parliamentary period. 

f) Bjørnøya
- No petroleum activities will be initiated within a 65-km zone round Bjørnøya in the current parliamentary period.

3.  Discharges to the sea
- Discharges to the sea from petroleum activities will be regulated in the same way in the management plan area as on other parts of the Norwegian continental shelf.

4.  Other environmental and fisheries-related requirements
- The management plan will be used as a basis for determining environmental and fisheries-related requirements in new production licences. Until the next update of the management plan, no additional environmental and fisheries-related requirements will be introduced for petroleum activities in the Barents Sea–Lofoten area.

5. More knowledge
- More knowledge will be generated on the ecological relationships between different parts of marine ecosystems.

- Knowledge will be built up on the pace and impacts of climate change, which processes create irreversible change, how resilient the Barents Sea–Lofoten area is to change, the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems, and how these developments contribute to the cumulative environmental effects on ecosystems.

- Knowledge will also be developed on cumulative environmental effects of different environmental pressures (such as climate change, ocean acidification and hazardous substances) and human activities (including fisheries, shipping, oil and gas activities), and emergency response needs in coastal waters and the shore zone will be reviewed.