Denmark to End Oil and Gas Exploration and Production by 2050. Cancels Licensing Round


December 4, 2020
Offshore drilling rig - Credit: ThomasBang/AdobeStock

Offshore drilling rig - Credit: ThomasBang/AdobeStock

Denmark's government on Thursday agreed with a majority in parliament to put an end to all oil and gas exploration and extraction in the North Sea by 2050 as well as cancel its latest licensing round.

The future of Denmark's oil and gas operations in the North Sea has been a political issue after the Nordic country agreed last year on one of the world's most ambitious climate targets of reducing emissions by 70% by 2030 and being climate neutral in 2050.

The deal agreed by lawmakers late on Thursday will cancel a planned eighth licensing round and any future tenders, while also making 2050 the last year in which to extract fossil fuels in the North Sea.

"We are now putting a final end to the fossil era," Climate Minister Dan Joergensen said in a statement.

The eighth licensing round faced large uncertainty after energy major Total withdrew from the tender process in October, leaving only one applicant remaining.

Denmark is the largest producer of oil and gas in the European Union, which does not include Norway and the U.K., both much larger producers.

Denmark is estimated to produce 83,000 barrels of crude oil and another 21,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2020.

The canceled tender and an end-date in 2050 would translate into a total loss of 13 billion Danish crowns ($2.1 billion), the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities estimated, but it said this amount was subject to substantial uncertainty.

In June, an independent government adviser recommended ending any future oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, saying a continuation would hurt the country's ambitions as a front-runner on fighting climate change.

 ($1 = 6.1263 Danish crowns) 

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)

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