The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) issued a press release Thursday announcing this year's seismic season is over. About 5,600 kilometers of two-dimensional seismic data was collected, while the original plan was to collect 7,100 kilometers. The collection of the data took place partly in the Svalbard zone and the original plan was to collect data until mid-September.
Not because of criticism
Seismic activity has been criticized by the environmental organization Greenpeace, the opposition parties in Parliament, and the Christian Democratic and Liberal parties that are part of the Conservative-led ruling coalition. However, the NPD says the conclusion of the activity is not due to the pressure.
"The fact that we have completed the seismic collection has nothing to do with Greenpeace," said Eldbjørg Vaage Melberg, an NPD spokesperson, in an interview with Teknisk Ukeblad.
"The reason that we planned for close to 6,000 to 7,000 kilometers, and ended up with about 5,700 kilometers, is that we always plan for a larger program than we expect to collect," the NPD stated in a press release.
In addition, the directorate's budget for the project this year has been spent.
The criticism from the political environment is that the seismic mapping in the Svalbard zone is to identify petroleum resources. The government – in its partnership with the Christian Democratic and Liberal parties, along with its own platform – has stated in writing that it is not open to allowing petroleum activities in the Svalbard zone. Both the NPD and Conservative Party member Nikolai Astrup have previously described the activity as pure mapping which has no relationship to oil work.
Greenpeace considers the stopping of the seismic mapping, done by "shooting" soundwaves, as a victory for the environmental organization that has worked to put a focus on the activity recently.
"The seismic program in the vulnerable Svalbard zone was closed just four days after it was revealed in a report on TV2," said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway. "The NPD says that the application is complete, but we note that the agency has shot 1,500 kilometers less than planned."
That the northernmost seismic lines, which are right up against Nordaustlandet, were not examined is something Gulowsen said he finds particularly gratifying.
"This is a victory for the environment in the Arctic," he added.