OSLO, Norway, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Environmental group Greenpeace said Tuesday it filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian government for giving energy companies consent to drill in Arctic waters.
The group's Norwegian branch and regional advocate Nature and Youth said in their challenge that Norway was violating the Paris climate agreement by moving ahead with oil drilling in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea.
"Signing an international climate agreement while throwing open the door to Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous act of hypocrisy," Truls Gulowsen with Greenpeace Norway said in a statement. "By allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic, Norway risks undermining global efforts to address climate change."
Norwegian energy company Statoil in late August said it would extend its reach into the Barents Sea next year in an effort to replenish its exploration portfolio. The company already has a rig on contract suitable for operations in northern waters and said it's slated to drill up to seven wells in the region in 2017.
About half of the 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters are in the Barents Sea.
Greenpeace in 2014 declared victory after Statoil ended a campaign in the Hoop reserve area in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea. The Hoop reserve area is near Bear Island, a unique island ecosystem that Greenpeace said would be spoiled should a spill occur in the area.
The previous year, Greenpeace used its Arctic Sunrise vessel to gain access to the Prirazlomnaya rig, deployed by Russian energy company Gazprom for work in the country's Arctic waters. Arctic Sunrise has been seized more than once by sovereign powers and, in 2013, the Kremlin said protest action by Greenpeace "had the appearance of extremist activity."
There was no statement from the Norwegian government on the Greenpeace lawsuit.