Greenland’s Prime Minister Encourages Patience in Oil Exploration

August 25, 2010

In response to news of positive oil exploration findings off the west coast of Greenland, Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist recently commented that the results were not definite evidence for oil reserves.  He also urged the citizens of Greenland to be patient in their expectations for an oil-rich economy.

Additionally, representatives of England’s Cairn Energy commented that they were encouraged by their discovery of pockets of gas, yet had not found any oil.

Investors in Cairn Energy, based in Edinburgh, England, had been hoping for a large oil discovery off the coast of Greenland in the Baffin Sea.

The Cairn oil well is the first of four exploratory drillings by the company.  The finding of gas is a positive indicator that there may be deposits of hydrocarbons in the region, which will be explored more with the remaining three wells yet to be drilled.

Kleist said that he was not expecting Greenland to incur oil income for many years.  He was positive, however, in his belief that oil would be discovered in the area and become a source of income through exports, hopefully lessening Greenland’s dependence upon its fishing industry.  Greenland also receives money from Denmark.

Greenland is an autonomously-ruled country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of Canada.

The Prime Minister noted that Greenlanders should be patient in their expectations for oil, saying, “We need to calm down a little bit.”  He added that the Cairn well is only the eighth to have ever been drilled off their coast.  In comparison, hundreds of wells were drilled in the North Sea before oil was eventually found.

Kleist also mentioned that BP’s recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill has created an atmosphere of concern surrounding oil exploration off their coast, but that they accepted the risk and were confident in their high Norwegian standards for oil operations.  He added that he felt most Greenlanders supported their pursuing of oil in the area.

The activist group Greenpeace recently reported that a Danish navy ship had blocked their boat on the edge of the security zone around the Cairn drilling rig.

In reference to the incident, Kleist reaffirmed that they were concerned with enforcing their high safety standards for the employees involved in the operation as well as the environment.

Kleist, relatively new to his office, having been elected Prime Minister in 2009, also explained how Greenland should work on diversifying their economy, including minerals and oil, as well as tourism and other industries based upon renewable energy.

Greenland is also making plans to invest in hydroelectric power.  With a new hydro plant, the Prime Minister feels they could derive 70% of the nation’s energy through hydro power.