As part of her campaign to enshrine Iceland’s energy resources as the property of the nation, the singer Bjork Gudmundsdottir set up a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.
After a very public fight with Ross Beaty over his Canadian firm, Magma Energy’s bid to buy Iceland’s HS Orka, and a successful three-day karaoke marathon, Bjork’s petition has finally beaten it target number of signatories.
The petition aimed to amass 35,000 signatures because Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir wrote in a 2009 column that a petition of that size should be sufficient to warrant a national referendum on any given issue.
In the event, Bjork’s petition at the website orkuaudlindir.is has gathered nearly 48,000 signatures in a nation of just 320,000 people.
The Prime Minister has since responded (in typical Icelandic style, she responded using Facebook) saying, “One of the most important tasks of the government is to secure the nation’s ownership of its resources and to ensure that the proceeds go to the people”. She added that she celebrates the fact that tens of thousands of Icelanders have put their name to the call for a referendum.
There is, however, no indication yet that a referendum will actually take place; and even less assurance that such a plebiscite would go ahead before Magma Energy’s purchase is complete.
Due, in part, to Bjork’s campaign, the government appointed a committee to investigate Magma Energy’s purchase of HS Orka. The committee has yet to present its findings and the purchase would have otherwise been completed months ago following the green light from regulators.
Magma Energy’s investment in the Icelandic energy sector represents the single biggest foreign direct investment in the country since the banking collapse in 2008. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Australia’s Wasabi Energy has completed the purchase of a small geothermal power station near Husavik.