oil

On Article 10 in The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

A potential positive consequence of the petroleum industry’s expansion in Finnmark for the Sami population is the possible employment possibilities. Meanwhile, there are some prerequisites that must be in order for this to be beneficial for the Sámi. Experiences made when the ‘Snøhvit’ field was being constructed saw that the wider community was greatly beneficial, in that already existing building firms could be part of aiding the ‘Snøhvit’ building site. There are no known documentations on how this employment affected the Sámi part of the population. It is therefore necessary to explore why the Sámi population can differ so greatly from the non-Sámi. Previous research done by Vistnes et. al. (2008) shows that education relevant for the petroleum industry tends to be lower in municipalities where the majority of the population is Sámi, or have strong Sámi connections, such as all of Finnmark. This means that the competence building that the petroleum industry promise would benefit the inhabitants of Finnmark only to a lesser degree will benefit the Sámi population. Two possible outcomes of this situation that the impact assessment report suggest is that either the Sámi could work in the parts of the petroleum that does not require higher education, or that by seeing how the petroleum industry is growing be motivated to take the necessary higher education. This however is based on the assumptions that 1. The Sámi want to work for the petroleum industry and 2. That they are not already otherwise employed or preoccupied. The indirect effects of this expansion is that the non-Sámi population might grow in cities close to Sámi settlements, and in cities with a high percentage of Sámi inhabitants such as Kirkenes and Vadsø, and this can lead to a higher demand of Sámi made products. Another possible outcome of the indirect effect is that the competition from the petroleum industry will take workers away from what have traditionally been Sámi livelihoods, leading to the diminishing of the Sámi way of life. 

During the past 30-40 years Finnmark has experienced a depopulation of 10 percent, this holds true for municipalities with a strong Sámi connection as well. In Kvalsund however, a municipality with a high population of Sámi had a decreasing population right up until the Snøhvit gas field was being built. After the constructions started the population has now been stabilized. Even though, as above stated, education relevant for the petroleum industry is scarce in Finnmark, it is still a goal that the local population contributes and benefits from the industry. For many of its inhabitants and the labour that comes from other areas of the country this means that relocation is necessary, this can even be areas where the Sámi have traditionally had their settlements. If the petroleum industry settles for a LNG onshore solution, and this is situated east in Finnmark, this can be problematic for the already small Sámi population already living there. 

The report suggests that for the Sámi part of the population that lives in the cities it is equally important as for the Sámi who rely on the primary industry, that their ways of expressing their cultural identity gets an outburst. Strong Sámi institutions for education and science can be equally important for cultural expression as the primary industry. The consequences of the petroleum industry’s expansions seem to be largely negative for the primary sector, although this is not necessarily the same for the Sámi living in the cities. 

Within the official recommendation report it is stated that the northern parts of the South-East Barents Sea flake will experience that where Arctic waters meet the warmer Atlantic water the Polar Front will manifest itself. The report also agrees that the Ice Edge and the Polar Front are the foundations for a high biological production and an important breeding area for sea birds and sea mammals, with the most important seasons being the spring and summer. Nevertheless the request of opening up the South-East Barents Sea for an all year petroleum activity comes within the same document as this biological vulnerability is stated, and without specifying further the possible effects of what happens when oil meets the Polar Front. A prerequisite for this opening at the time was that this was the furthest north Norway had ever done oil drilling, and going beyond this was not recommendable. The report was approved by the Norwegian Parliament and the official recommendation of opening it came the 19th of June 2013. Only 3 months later Norway got a new government after 8 years of a socialist-left coalition. The new government was formed by the two largest conservative parties. In Norway the formal procedure for opening up new areas for oil production is first to have an impact assessment done, while this is being produced seismic shooting can be performed to locate an eventual oil well,  and if both of these elements are in order, the Parliament gives the permission for opening the new area for oil drilling and licensing rounds are held for the oil companies to choose their areas. The former government was record holding in having opened up and given away more concession rounds than all former governments in Norwegian oil history combined (SNL). This summer on the 17th of August the new government under the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy started seismic shooting in the Svalbard zone, an area where Norway’s sovereignty is politically disputed, without having started an impact assessment. In regards of giving the Sámi population a free informed prior consent, which is their right through Article 10 in The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on what is happening to their territories, it can be argued that the Sámi are not informed that when an impact assessment is being done, the process of opening the area for oil production have already begun, as no area that has undergone an impact assessment in Norwegian oil history has ever been left alone afterwards. By not stating this fact, information is necessarily held back. The seismic shooting around the Svalbard zone got national attention when Greenpeace Norway alerted the public news that Svalbard and The Barents Sea North was under threat of being unofficially opened, and the environmental movement in Norway alongside concerned political parties pressured the sitting government to stop the seismic shooting one month before it was scheduled to be finished.

Food Security for the Sámi and the Health of Species living in the Arctic

3.5 Food Security for the Sámi and the Health of Species living in the Arctic

The Arctic Council and Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) writes in the extensive report ‘Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic: Effects and Potential Effects’ (2007) on how seals and whales are normally not that sensitive towards outer affection of an oil spill. This is due to their thick layers of blubber that protects them against heat loss, and the skin of whales and walruses are robust enough to not take harm from contact with oil. Baby seals with fur however are very sensitive towards oil, equally so are polar bears, sea otters and Northern fur seals. 

The report states how oil spills in ice covered waters will be severely difficult to rinse up and with the added potential that the oil stays for a long time in the waters. Important areas where sea birds come to hunt for food and whales and seals comes to breath are openings in the ice, such as reads and so called polynyas, which are ice free areas due to wind and leeward sides produced by islands. Because of the need for keeping these areas free of oil, the whales are also considered sensitive towards oil spills. In all areas where birds and mammals appear densely packed in the Arctic will be areas that are vulnerable towards oil spills or disturbances from the petroleum industry. 

3.6 The formal process of opening the South-East Barents Sea for petroleum

The State Report ‘Meld. St. 36 (2012-2013) Melding til Stortinget Nye muligheter for Nord-Norge - åpning av Barentshavet sørøst for petroleumsvirksomhet’ (‘Message to the Parliament New possibilities for North-Norway - opening of the South-East Barents Sea to petroleum recovery’) is a recommendation report written on the basis of the impact assessment done by several affected actors, among them the Sámi Parliament representing the interest of the Sámi population when considering whether it is responsible to open the South-East Barents Sea to the petroleum industry. The chapter of the impact assessment regarding how the Sámi interest will be affected is based on an independent study done by the consultancy firm Pöyry (2012) that considers the Sámi’s commercial activities such as reindeer husbandry, fishing, rural livelihoods and forest pasture, in addition to employment, competencies, settlements, expression of culture and identity development. The scenarios that are considered in this assessment are only the effects on the Sámi population during ordinary petroleum activity, meaning without any leaks or other emissions to their close environment. This is the gap this master is trying to fill; what if something goes wrong? 

Chapter 8 ‘Betydningen for samiske forhold' (‘The Significance for Sámi conditions’) in the report ‘Ringvirkninger av petroleums- virksomhet ved Barentshavet sørøst Konsekvensutredning for Barentshavet sørøst Utarbeidet på oppdrag fra Olje- og energidepartementet’ (‘Ripple effects of the petroleum activity in the South-East Barents Sea Impact assessment for the South-East Barents Sea commissioned on behalf of the Ministry of Oil and Energy’) considers how Sámi interests are affected. Sámi areas are all the areas that the Sámi use or live in, practically speaking this covers all of Finnmark, northernmost municipality in Norway, as a Sámi area. The Sámi way of making a livelihood involves reindeer husbandry, fishing, rural livelihoods and forest pasture, of these the fishing, rural livelihood and forest pasture will be affected by the petroleum expansion, both for the Sámi and non-Sámi population. The petroleum industry’s impact on the reindeer husbandries will however only affect the Sámi, as they are the only population in Norway that exercises this. It is only a small number of the Sámi population that exercise reindeer husbandry, although it is considered a significant part of Sámi culture expression and identity. An explanation to this can be found in Vistnes et. al. (2008) where it is suggested that the reindeer husbandry has in a lesser degree been ‘Norwegianised’, as for example the Coastal Sámi culture has experienced. The report looks on the direct consequences the petroleum expansion will have for Sámi livelihoods. There can however also be indirect consequences given that the Sámi and the petroleum industry will want the same employees, and as the Sámi’s way of cultivating their land is so closely knit with their expression of culture and identity, this can present a challenge. As this master focuses on the Coastal Sámi in particular, it will only very briefly touch upon what the effects of the petroleum industry can lead to with the reindeers. Local direct effects, as building a road necessary for the petroleum expansion through a grazing area, can lead to disturbance of single reindeers as increased stress may shorten their life expectancy. Regional indirect effects on the herd as a whole can occur if reindeer shun the areas where they know they are likely to be disturbed and because of this they end up being rounded up in smaller grazing areas, where they may over-stretch the capacity of the given land, causing the reindeer to not gain as much body reservoirs as is necessary before the cold season. The cumulative long-term effect of the production is reduced health for the reindeers, leading to a fall in the reindeer husbandry for the herding Sámi population. 

When considering what areas within the fishing industry that are considered of Sámi interest, the general consensus is that the Coastal Sámi population has mainly focused on fishing in the fjords and nearby coastal districts, even thought many Sámi participate in fishing off shore with active fishing equipment. On this basis these sources suggest that it is not purposeful of the impact assessment to make a divide between the Sámi population and the non-Sámi population in questions regarding how the petroleum will affect the fishing industry in Finnmark. The breeding industry for fish has become an important industry in many fjords with Sámi settlement, which has caused the breeding industry to be counted upon as a Sámi industry. The way fish will be affected by the petroleum will in turn have direct consequences for the Sámi conditions. 

The Sámi's use of agriculture and forest pasture is a traditional part of the Sámi living. In addition to reindeer husbandry, their livelihood also includes grouse hunting in the forest pasture and fishing. Today, these are only considered subsidiary income sources for the Sámi, with a difficulties recruiting. However, the agriculture is very important for Sámi families, as the family is an economic production unit, and places where the Sámi can fish and hunt are considered important factors for where to make settlements, in addition to being culturally important. The way Sámi agriculture in Finnmark would be affected in a high risk scenario of the expansion of the petroleum industry would be if Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) (see Glossary) constructions were built on shore that took up the areas where the Sámi traditionally have done their hunting, or where they have their settlements. In addition comes the possible pollution the construction can have on the outskirts. In a low risk scenario the petroleum constructions would be off shore. This would lead to a lesser impact on the Sámi settlements, although it opens up to a range of other potential threats of how petroleum construction sites at sea can harm the environment that in turn will harm the Sámi through their fishing.