Norway Coalition Extends Lofoten Freeze
Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg was confirmed in office January 14, as her conservatives agreed to a minority three-party coalition that will halt oil and gas exploration off the Lofoten islands until 2021.
Her alliance with the small populist Progress Party, which has held power as a minority government since 2013, needed to make concessions to the centre-right Liberal (Venstre) party to bring the latter on board, notably over the environment and oil exploration, according to 'The Local' online newspaper; it added that ministerial appointments are expected to be announced by January 19.
It has taken Norway four months since elections in September to agree a new government, during which Solberg and her cabinet remained in office.
Solberg sacked a former petroleum minister, Tord Lien, in December 2016 after he “forgot” to exclude seas around the fisheries- and wildlife-rich Lofoten islands from the country’s 24th licensing round, causing uproar among Norway's politically-active fishing communities. Both Lien and his successor Terje Soviknes are members of the Progress Party.
Two weeks ago Oslo District Court found in favour of the government in a legal challenge by environmentalists to its 2016 award of 23rd round production licences in the Barents Sea, far to the north.
(The photo shows Reine on the Lofoten island Moskenesøy. Credit: Jorg Hempel)