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NGOs lose court case to halt Norway Arctic oil exploration

A Norwegian court has found that Arctic oil exploration licenses do not violate the country's constitution. Environmentalists have been ordered to pay the state's court costs. It is unclear if the groups will appeal.

A lawsuit brought by environmental groups has been struck down by an Oslo court. The suit, brought by Greenpeace and the group Nature and Youth, alleged that Norwegian licenses granted in 2016 to 13 companies including Statoil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Lukoil to explore for oil in the Barents Sea violated Norway's constitution.

Read more: Environmentalists seek halt to Norwegian oil prospecting

Norway is the largest oil producing and exporting nation in Western Europe. Although Arctic oil makes up a small portion of the country's output, experts suspect that the region holds great potential and could eventually replace older fields in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. After ruling in favor of the Norwegian government, the court ordered the NGOs to pay the government's legal costs, which totaled 580,000 Norwegian crowns ($71,687/ 59,334 euros).

Read more: Norwegian wealth fund plans to divest of oil and gas

The NGOs claimed that the licensing violated citizens' constitutional rights to a healthy living environment. Government lawyers, in turn, argued that the suit had been a publicity stunt that would have cost jobs had it been upheld. It is unclear whether the NGOs will appeal the ruling.

Watch video 02:06

Offshore oil platforms attracting tourists in Norway

js/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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