Denmark votes to end oil and gas exploration in the North Sea

exploration de pétrole et de gaz en mer du Nord


Denmark is going to put an end to all new oil and gas exploration in its North Sea territorial waters. This decision was made within the framework of a plan aiming to end fossil fuel extraction by 2050.

Almost half a century after the beginning of oil and gas production, the Danish parliament voted to cancel its latest licensing round, along with all future calls for tender granting companies the right to explore and produce fossil fuels. 

Denmark thus wishes to appear a world leader in climate diplomacy. It has already announced some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in the world: 70% by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050.

Today, 55 drilling platforms on the Danish continental shelf in the North Sea cover the 20 oil and gas fields. They are divided between several international producers: the French firm Total, which operates 15 of these fields but will withdraw its application for the latest licensing round, the English firm Ineos, the American firm Hess, and the German firm Wintershall. 

With 103,000 barrels of oil and 3.2 billion cubic meters of gas produced in 2019, Denmark is a small producer compared to its neighbors, the United Kingdom and Norway, but remains the largest in the European Union. However, oil and gas production is set to continue to rise over the next decade, before culminating around 2030. 

A godsend for the Danish welfare state 

Since the first extractions in 1972, the resulting tax revenue has largely supported the Danish welfare state for several decades. Stopping all production is set to reduce this revenue by 13 billion Danish krone (1.75 billion euros). 

In addition to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds compared to 1990 (20 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent less), Denmark has committed to investing 1.3 billion euros in new climate initiatives. 

A renewable energy pioneer, it set up the first offshore wind farm in the world in 1991. Since the turn of the century, it has become a world leader in the sector, with two of the largest global wind power players: the energy firm Orsted and the turbine manufacturer Vestas.


« Denmark to end all new North Sea oil and gas exploration », Financial Times, 4 décembre 2020 -