Denmark cancels new oil and gas permits

8 December 2020

The Danish parliament has announced that it will cancel all future licencing rounds for new oil and gas exploration and production permits in the Danish part of the North Sea and end existing production by 2050. As a major oil producing country in the EU, Denmark’s announcement is a landmark decision towards the phase-out of fossil fuels.

The political agreement allocates money to secure a fair transition of workers affected by the decision. 

Helene Hagel, head of climate and environmental policy at Greenpeace Denmark commented: “Denmark will now set an end date to oil and gas production and bid farewell to the future licensing rounds for oil in the North Sea, so the country can assert itself as a green frontrunner and inspire other countries to end our dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels. This is a huge victory for the climate movement and all the people who have pushed for many years to make it happen.”

Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, commented: “All eyes will be on the UK next year as [it] hosts crucial climate talks’ If UK prime minister Johnson wants to keep up and build global momentum for the clean energy transition, he must cancel the next round of oil and gas licencing, end all future exploration and ditch the legal requirement to extract as much as possible from the North Sea basin. 

“To recover from this pandemic and to future-proof our economy, we must transform the North Sea into a renewables-only energy industry that creates jobs for workers and powers the UK with clean, affordable energy.”

For over 80 years Denmark has allowed exploration for hydrocarbons and since 1972, after the first commercial discovery was made, oil (and later gas) has been produced in the Danish offshore waters of the North Sea.

On the Danish continental shelf in the North Sea, there are 55 platforms scattered across 20 oil and gas fields. French oil major Total is responsible for production in 15 of these fields, while UK based INEOS operates in 3 of them, American Hess and German Wintershall in 1 each.

In 2019, Denmark produced 103 000 barrels of oil per day, making Denmark the EU's second largest producer after the UK. The same year, Denmark produced a total of 3.2 billion cubic metres of fossil gas, according to BP’s ‘Statistical Review of World Energy 2020.’

Danish oil and gas production has been projected to increase over the coming years before peaking in 2028 and 2026, respectively and will start declining hereafter.

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