Statoil given Greenland exploration licence

800px-Statoil_kaunasStatoil has been handed a licence to carry out an oil exploration programme off the northeast coast of Greenland.

The Norwegian company, which will conduct its programme in block 6 of the Arctic, will be working alongside its partners Nunaoil and ConocoPhillips.

Statoil, holding a 52.5 per cent stake, will be the block’s operator. ConocoPhillips will hold a 35 per cent stake, while Nunaoil, which is Greenland’s national oil company, will have 12.5 per cent.

Oil exploration plans in the Arctic, including off Greenland, is a controversial issue and have led to environmentalist groups staging protests.

Statoil’s Greenland and Faroe Islands manager Runi M.Hansen said they are aware the challenge posed by the frontier region. He said that as long-term project for the company, it will ensure it keeps top a “stepwise” approach and not move quicker than technology allows. The exploration licence is valid for 16 years.

Statoil is a partner in three other licences off Greenland: Pitu, Anu and Napu – all in the Baffin Bay area west of the autonomous country. Analysts estimate that there could be as much as 20 billion barrels of oil reserves off Greenland.

Greenland’s government said that although there are risks in offshore drilling, advanced technology means they are not as high as they were in years gone by.