Offshore oil a risky path to Greenlandic prosperity : WWF

Posted on 22 January 2014    
Ice off the coast of northeastern Greenland, August 2012.
© Martin von Mirbach / WWF
Rather than pursuing risky oil projects in the icy Greenland Sea, Greenland should use its limited resources to ensure it gets the best return possible from mining projects already begun, while keeping environmental damage to a minimum, says Gitte Seeberg, Secretary General of WWF in Denmark, in an op-ed published last week in the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq.

Greenland’s Self-Rule Authority recently announced licenses for oil exploration as far north as 78°, in regions that are never entirely ice-free. Compounding the considerable risk of operating an oil rig in icy waters, cleaning up an oil spill would be impossible in these remote locations off northeast Greenland. A spill could be disastrous for the ecosystems and fisheries upon which Greenlanders depend.

“It is hard to imagine how oil exploration would be conducted in the area, and even harder to imagine how even a moderate oil spill would be cleaned up”, says Seeberg. “One accident would be enough to destroy the environment over an immense area.”

Seeberg says WWF understands Greenland’s wish to become independent, and the desire for economic development, investment, tax revenue and new jobs. However, the proposed projects endanger the very environment that has supported Greenlanders for generations and continues to be the base for its economy today.

WWF recommends that oil exploration in northeastern Greenland be halted until, at the very least, a clear picture of the consequences of a disastrous oil spill can be demonstrated. In addition, WWF is appealing to the Danish government to reconsider its investment in these projects through DONG Energy which could counter the best interests of Greenland’s environment and economy.

More information
Read the full statement from Gitte Seeberg: in Danish, in English

Rune Langhoff
Press Officer
+45 31 47 11 34
WWF Denmark, Copenhagen

Ice off the coast of northeastern Greenland, August 2012.
© Martin von Mirbach / WWF Enlarge

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required