Norwegian oil help: A mixed blessing? / Columns / The Foreigner

Norwegian oil help: A mixed blessing?. The search for oil goes on with Norway continuing to look beyond its own shores. The financial crisis combined with high oil prices are tempting small island states such as the Bahamas and the Seychelles to search for oil in their surrounding waters. This means contracts for many Norwegian companies involved in conducting and interpreting seismic surveys. Last year, Norway's ambassador to the Seychelles (based in Tanzania), Ingunn Klepsvik, reassured the Seychellois President James Michel that Norway would offer oil exploration expertise should the Seychelles be "blessed with oil findings". That blessing has a price.

norwayoil, climatechange



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18:54:00 — Friday, 24th October, 2014

Columns Article

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Norwegian oil help: A mixed blessing?

Published on Monday, 24th September, 2012 at 10:05 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

The search for oil goes on with Norway continuing to look beyond its own shores.

Searching in the Bahamas
Can oil solve the Bahamas' social and infrastructure ills?Searching in the Bahamas
Photo: Ilan Kelman


The financial crisis combined with high oil prices are tempting small island states such as the Bahamas and the Seychelles to search for oil in their surrounding waters. This means contracts for many Norwegian companies involved in conducting and interpreting seismic surveys.

Last year, Norway's ambassador to the Seychelles (based in Tanzania), Ingunn Klepsvik, reassured the Seychellois President James Michel that Norway would offer oil exploration expertise should the Seychelles be "blessed with oil findings". That blessing has a price.

Natural resources can morph into a curse, as many other countries have experienced. Nigeria and Azerbaijan are examples of resource-rich countries plagued by violence, corruption, and oppression. They can hardly be held up as beacons of democracy or human rights.

Chairman of the Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEYPEC), Guy Adam, was interviewed by The Report Company in February. He was asked how they were prepared for oil discoveries in the Seychelles, in light of the oil and gas sector being "notorious for the risks and threats it poses to economic and political stability and the environment".

He answered that they had been helped by the Norwegians, because the Seychelles sees the Norwegian "model as one to follow". Norway is indeed a good example of how a small country can have natural resource riches while retaining democratic values and seeking equality amongst its people partly through wealth management.

Norway's government also aims to be an international leader in the fight against climate change and addressing its impacts. In fact, climate change threatens life on many small island states through rising sea levels, affecting freshwater, and changing ecosystems.

Oil might bring the islands the social values that they seek, but that is not certain. It does seem certain that new oil fields would cause cheers to echo around the Norwegian stock exchange along with rising greenhouse gas emissions.

That could ultimately render life impossible on some small island states. Not quite a blessing.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO) and co-director of the Many Strong Voices programme bringing together the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to tackle climate change.




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Published on Monday, 24th September, 2012 at 10:05 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: norwayoil, climatechange.


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