‘Millions of barrels of oil in Swedish waters’

A Swedish prospecting company has applied for permission from the government to drill for oil in the Baltic sea bed. The head of Oljeprospektering AB (Opab) believes that the company may be able to extract up to 300 million barrels of oil from an area south of Gotland, the largest island in the Baltic Sea.

'Millions of barrels of oil in Swedish waters'

The company must await a reply from the trade ministry before it can begin drilling for oil on the outer edge of the Swedish economic zone, 120 kilometres east of the Blekinge region, close to the borders of Lithuania and Latvia.

“If possible, we hope to begin late in the summer of 2008,” Opab’s CEO Torgny Berglund told the TT news agency.

Sweden’s Baltic neighbour Poland already extracts oil from a source just 65 kilometres away from the proposed site, pumping between 15,000 and 20,000 barrels a day from its economic zone. But Opab believes that it could extract around 50,000 barrels of oil from the Swedish zone.

“There could be a maximum of up to 300 million barrels. Because Opab is a Swedish company, this would provide the state with substantial tax revenues,” said Torgny Berglund.

If the company’s calculations are correct, the site contains enough oil to meet twenty percent of Sweden’s oil needs for two decades.

But Opab must first convince the government that moves to begin drilling would not have a negative environmental impact on the Baltic Sea.

Not since 1987 has an attempt been made to drill for oil in Swedish waters. On that occasion, Opab failed to find oil in Hanö Bay south of Blekinge.

“Now we are closer to areas where oil has previously been found,” Said Berglund.

Opab is a subsidiary of Svenska Petroleum Exploration, a company owned by Mohammed Al-Amoudi, a Saudi Arabian/Ethiopian businessman ranked by Forbes in 2006 as the 77th richest person in the world.


Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

Sweden's government has proposed a new law which will remove local municipalities' power to block wind parks in the final stages of the planning process, as part of a four-point plan to speed up the expansion of wind power.

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

“We are doing this to meet the increased need for electricity which is going to come as a result of our green industrial revolution,” Strandhäll said at a press conference. 

“It is important to strengthen Sweden by rapidly breaking our dependence on fossil fuels, building out our energy production and restructuring our industry. The Swedish people should not be dependent on countries like Russia to drive their cars or warm their homes.”

“We are going to make sure that municipalities who say “yes” to wind power get increased benefits,” she added in a press statement. “In addition, we are going to increase the speed with which wind power is built far offshore, which can generally neither be seen or heard from land.” 

While municipalities will retain a veto over wind power projects on their territory under the proposed new law, they will have to take their decision earlier in the planning process to prevent wind power developers wasting time and effort obtaining approvals only for the local government to block projects at the final stags. 

“For the local area, it’s mostly about making sure that those who feel that new wind parks noticeably affect their living environment also feel that they see positive impacts on their surroundings as a result of their establishment,” Strandhäll said.  “That might be a new sports field, an improved community hall, or other measures that might make live easier and better in places where wind power is established.” 

According to a report from the Swedish Energy Agency, about half of the wind projects planned since 2014 have managed to get approval. But in recent years opposition has been growing, with the opposition Moderate, Swedish Democrats, and Christian Democrat parties increasingly opposing projects at a municipal level. 

Municipalities frequently block wind park projects right at the end of the planning process following grassroots local campaigns. 

The government a month ago sent a committee report, or remiss, to the Council on Legislation, asking them to develop a law which will limit municipal vetoes to the early stages of the planning process. 

At the same time, the government is launching two inquiries. 

The first will look into what incentives could be given to municipalities to encourage them to allow wind farms on their land, which will deliver its recommendations at the end of March next year. In March, Strandhäll said that municipalities which approve wind farm projects should be given economic incentives to encourage them to accept projects on their land. 

The second will look into how to give the government more power over the approvals process for wind projects under Sweden’s environmental code. This will deliver its recommendations at the end of June next year.