Published by Oil Change International.
On August 8th, 2023, the Norwegian Government gave the green light for Equinor’s plans to electrify its liquefied natural gas facility on Melkøya island. This briefing, titled, Norway’s Electrification of Melkøya Gas Plant: The Perfect Storm of Climate Injustice, reveals not only the project’s disastrous climate implications for the Norway and the Arctic, but also the human rights violations in the decades-long oppression of the Indigenous Sámi people and their ancestral lands.
The gas and liquids produced and shipped out from the Snøhvit gas facility have resulted in 163 million tonnes of CO2 since operations began in 2007, which is equivalent to 3.3 years of Norway’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2022. The approval of the Snøhvit Future project means an electrification of Equinor’s LNG plant at Melkøya, and consequently a longer lifespan for gas production at the LNG facility.
Specifically, this briefing reveals that the electrification of Melkøya would add up to 150 million tons of CO2, emissions that are clearly incompatible with our limited carbon budget:
- Climate bomb in the Arctic: Electrification locks in gas production in the Arctic, and prolongs the lifespan of the Melkøya liquid natural gas (LNG) plant for 20 years. The government’s own analysis estimates that burning the additional gas production will emit over 150 million tonnes of CO2. This dwarfs the touted emissions reductions of 850,000 tonnes per year from electrifying the LNG plant.
- Another slap in the face for Sámi rights: The Norwegian government has still not followed up on a Supreme Court judgement from 2021 that found a previous energy project breached Sámi reindeer herders’ rights. Electrification of Melkøya gives the go-ahead for new power lines that once again pass through reindeer pasture territories. Such contempt for Indigenous rights is the opposite of climate justice.
Additionally, this briefing provides the following recommendations:
- The electrification plans for Melkøya LNG must be terminated and the concession to build the 420 kV power line from Hammerfest to Skaidi must be revoked.
- The gas production from Snøhvit and LNG facility on Melkøya must be phased out. The phase-out should be based on principles of equity and should follow the timelines from the 2022 study by the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University. That would entail that the production is reduced by 74% by 2030, and the production is completely ended by 2034.
- The Norwegian Government must immediately stop the ongoing human rights violations against the Sámi people.