The Greenlandic underground is rich in both oil resources and minerals, and the history of exploration and exploitation activities goes back many years and has a global reach.
The Greenlandic government, Naalakkersuisut, remains committed to developing the country’s vast mineral potential, where this does not involve the extraction of uranium. Therefore, a draft-bill has just been sent out for consultation, which bans preliminary investigation, exploration and extraction of uranium in Greenland.
The Greenlandic population has based its livelihood on the country's natural resources for centuries, and the ban on uranium mining is rooted in a profound belief that business activities must take nature and the environment into account.
It is the same concerns that form the backdrop for the Greenlandic government's decision to introduce a stop to new oil and gas exploration.
An end to oil exploration
Greenlandic underground contains large unexplored deposits of oil. A recent study from The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) estimates that there are DKK 18 billion de-risked barrels of oil on the west coast of Greenland. Large deposits are also expected to hide below the seabed on the east coast of Greenland.
However, the Greenlandic government believes that the price of oil extraction is too high. This is based upon economic calculations, but considerations of the impact on climate and the environment also play a central role in the decision.
Against this background, Naalakkersuisut has decided to cease issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Greenland. This step has been taken for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of our tourism industry, and to focus our business on sustainable potentials.
The Minister for Housing, Infrastructure, Mineral Resources and Gender Equality, Naaja H. Nathanielsen states:
“As a society, we must dare to stop and ask ourselves why we want to exploit a resource. Is the decision based upon updated insight and the belief that it is the right thing to do? Or are we just continuing business as usual? It is the position of the Greenlandic government that our country is better off focusing on sustainable development, such as the potential for renewable energy.”
The Minister for Fisheries and Hunting, Aqqaluaq B. Egede says:
“The decision emphasizes that Greenland manages its natural resources sustainably. It is a strong signal to be able to announce that our fish and catch comes from a country that puts sustainable management of our natural resources high on the agenda. By doing so we can continue to supply the world's consumers with premium raw materials.”
The Minister for Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment, Kalistat Lund states:
“Naalakkersuisut takes climate change seriously. We can see the consequences in our country every day, and we are ready to contribute to global solutions to counter climate change. Naalakkersuisut is working to attract new investments for the large hydropower potential that we cannot exploit ourselves. The decision to stop new exploration for oil will contribute to place Greenland as the country where sustainable investments are taken seriously.”
The Minister for Business, Trade, Foreign Affairs and Climate, Pele Broberg says:
“International investments in the energy sector in recent years are moving away from oil and gas and into renewable energy. It is therefore natural that we emphasise business on the opportunities of the future and not on the solutions of the past. The decision to halt oil exploration is also the story of a population that puts the environment first. It is a story I look forward to sharing with the tourism sector and include when I represent Greenland internationally.”