Oil firms cool over Greenland oil drilling


None of the oil companies that have a license to drill in the seas surrounding Greenland have applied for one in 2014, according to the environment NGO Greenpeace.

Oil companies that want to drill in Greenland will have to apply before 1 February, but according to Greenland's Mining Agency, no applications have been received thus far.

This will be the 3rd year in a row that no company has expressed interest in oil drilling around the Arctic country.

Though oil has never been found in Greenland, the deposits are estimated to be huge, especially in the northeastern and western parts of the country. However, oil drilling is complicated due to icebergs, rough weather and drifting ice.

"For the third year in a row, the oil companies stay away from the risky drillings and the release of big amounts of chemicals into the Greenlandic seas," Jon Burgwald from Greenpeace Denmark told the newspaper Politiken.

"An oil spill in Greenland would be a catastrophe for both the environment and the fishery, and no one – not even the Danish defence or the companies – can clean up if there's an accident," he explained.

According to Burgwald, Greenpeace hopes that the Greenlandic government will use the break to reconsider whether oil drilling is the right way forward for the country.

Between 2010 and 2011, the Scottish company Cairn Energy spent more than €1 billion on oil drilling off the western coast of Greenland.

Denmark and Greenland are currently discussing plans to allow uranium exploitation in Greenland.

Greenland is a self-ruled territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. The world's second largest island after Australia, it is about half of the size of the EU.

Around 57,000 people live in Greenland, making it the least densely populated country in the world. Only 44 politicians are in charge of the country, including ministers, MPs and mayors.

Greenland was granted home rule in 1979, but the Danish government is still in charge of foreign affairs, financial policy and security - including defence, police and justice. Denmark  provides a subsidy of 3.4 billion crowns (€457 million) per year.

Greenland joined the European Common Market along with Denmark in 1972, but left the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1985 over the bloc's commercial fishing regulations and ban on seal skin products.

  • 1 Feb. 2014: Deadline to apply for drilling license in Greenland for 2014.

Subscribe to our newsletters