On Tuesday this week, His Majesty King Harald of Norway is to fly out into the North Sea with Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Oil and Energy Minister Sylvi Listhaug. There, the King will attend the solemn opening of Norway’s third largest oil field. This has created strong reactions from Norwegian and international climate politicians. “The opening of the Johan Sverdrup field is nothing to celebrate. It is a huge investment of mistakes”, says parliamentary representative and spokesperson for the Norwegian Green Party, Une Bastholm.
Bastholm, on Sunday, issued a statement criticising the state-owned Norwegian oil company Equinor and the Norwegian government for putting King Harald in a situation where he “must throw his shine and glory on an oil project that will contribute massively to the climate crisis”.
This statement from the Green Party has been met with strong reactions from both the political left and right in Norway. The majority of politicians have expressed surprise that the Green Party has drawn the King into debate about Norwegian environmental policy. “It is disrespectful for the Green Party to use King Harald politically in this way to make themselves interesting. I think the Norwegian people will react strongly to this”, said Oil and Energy Minister Sylvi Listhaug.
The Norwegian prime minister also responded to the fact that the environmental movement had drawn Norway’s monarch into politics. Prime Minister Erna Solberg commented on Monday morning: “I won’t put labels on the Green Party. But that Johan Sverdrup field will be important for value creation and welfare in Norway for many, many years to come, there is no doubt. It is quite natural for the king to participate in the opening of one of the largest contributions to Norwegian welfare in the years to come”.
“We are proud to have an official opening of a field that has low emissions and will provide large revenue to the community. We are also incredibly pleased that the King is participating, ”says Communications Manager Morten Eek in Equinor.
The Johan Sverdrup field, also known in Norway as ”the elephant field”, is an oil field in the North Sea 140 kilometres west of the city of Stavanger. The field was detected in 2010; 40 years of operation are planned. It is the third largest oil field found so far on the Norwegian continental shelf. Production started on October 5th 2019, over two months earlier than planned. The field has the potential to increase Norway’s total oil production by 37% in 2020.