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Norway Delays Jan Mayen Oil Opening, Seeks More Precise Estimate

Norway, western Europe’s biggest oil and gas exporter, will postpone its efforts to open up the area around the Arctic Jan Mayen island to exploration by at least a year until it has more precise resource estimates.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s first estimate, from zero to 2.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent, is too broad, Petroleum and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said.

“We wish to do a more thorough job on resource estimates for Jan Mayen before we proceed,” he said today in an interview in Oslo. “Jan Mayen is a micro-continent, it’s isolated, there hasn’t been any drilling and few tests. We have set aside means to do that in the course of the year.”

Norway, looking to Arctic waters to counter falling output from aging fields in the North Sea, had planned to recommend opening the Jan Mayen area, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) west of Norway and 600 kilometers north of Iceland, at the same time as new acreage in the Barents Sea in coming months.

The Barents Sea southeast, a zone previously disputed with Russia, may hold 1.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent, the NPD said. Norway still plans to recommend to Parliament that it open the area to the oil industry before the summer, Borten Moe said.

Results from new surveys and tests offshore Jan Mayen will be ready by March 1, 2014, he said. Norway will hold elections before then in September, with the opposition conservatives now leading Jens Stoltenberg’s Labor-led coalition in the polls.

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