OSLO, Norway, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government says petroleum activity in the southeast Barents Sea would have a negligible effect on the surrounding environment.
Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy submitted impact assessments on Barents Sea exploration for public comment through early 2013. Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said the assessment confirms more than 30 years of experience working on resource extraction in the region.
"The reports expand upon, strengthen and confirm existing knowledge," he said in a statement. "They show that petroleum activity in the Barents Sea southeast has the potential to stimulate substantial value creation and employment nationally."
Based on its assessments, the Norwegian government said the environmental risk from "ordinary" petroleum work would have little effect.
"A major, sudden spill may have a negative environmental effect but the probability of such an incident is very low," a ministry statement read.
Norway is the largest oil producer in Europe and the second-largest exporter of natural gas after Russia. The Norwegian government had said it expected investments in the oil and natural gas sector to reach $30 billion by the end of the year.