New international rules are needed to protect the arctic environment as it is targeted for more energy exploration, the Netherlands said this week.
Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Maxime Verhagen told an international energy conference in Norway Monday the huge oil and gas reserves of the arctic hold much potential for supplying the world’s growing energy needs.
But, he warned, the effect on the region’s vulnerable environment of exploiting those resources is “difficult to predict at this time,” and therefore, “binding international rules to prevent environmental damage” are needed.
Verhagen said trusting energy companies and competing national governments to police themselves in the arctic isn’t sufficient.
“We should not overestimate the energy industry’s capacity for self-regulation in the arctic,” Verhagen said at the Offshore Northern Seas exhibition in Stavanger, Norway. “Because of the diverging geopolitical and commercial interests, we need new international rules.”
Because demand for energy is continuing to grow and the fact that most of the oil and natural gas reserves are within the countries bordering the North Pole, the Netherlands believes exploitation in the North Pole region is “merely a question of time,” Verhagen said.
“The challenge we face is not whether we should permit energy exploitation but how to do it responsibly,” he said, adding the Netherlands and Norway would “take the lead in developing safer, cleaner technologies for exploiting oil and gas.”