Greenland, along with Alaska and Russia, has been a hotspot for oil companies hoping to tap into the estimated 25% of the world’s remaining oil and gas reserved in and around the Arctic Ocean. But the new government in Greenland has just put a moratorium on all new offshore oil and gas drilling licenses in the country’s Arctic waters. The moratorium comes as a result of concerns raised by Greenpeace about the risk of oil spills and the inevitable contribution to global warming involved in off-shore oil and gas operations.

greenland, greenland off-shore oil drilling, greenland moratorium on new oil drilling licenses, cairn, shell, greenpeace, cairn edinburgh headquarters, aleqa hammond, greenland's newly elected government

Early drilling operations by British Arctic drilling pioneer, Cairn and Shell, deeply concerned environmentalists worried that the pristine, icy waters around Greenland could be irreparably damaged by oil spills. A decision by the former government of Greenland, in co-hoots with Cairn, to allow them to cover-up oil spills further infuriated environmentalists, leading to protestors taking over Cairn’s Edinburgh headquarters.

A legal injunction obtained by Cairn against Greenpeace International was lifted on Wednesday, making way for the coalition agreement signed by a newly-elected administration that put a moratorium on new drilling licenses. Greenland prime minister, Aleqa Hammond, said that the new government would be “reluctant” to handout any new permits and any exploration under existing permits could only go forward under much closer scrutiny.

Jon Burgwald, an Arctic campaigner for Greenpeace in Denmark, rejoiced at the new government’s decision. He said, “until now, the people of Greenland have been kept in the dark about the enormous risks taken by the politicians and the companies in the search for Arctic oil. Now it seems that the new government will start taking these risks seriously. The logical conclusion must be a total ban on offshore oil drilling in Greenland.”

Via The Guardian

Photos by Marcusroos, via Wikimedia Commons and by TJ Guiton [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons