The Arctic, Late June 2010 (photo by By Jeff Schmaltz - NASA Earth Observatory, Public Domain) The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing NOK 14.3 million ($1.6 million) for a project to reduce environmental risk in connection with oil and gas activities in northern sea areas.

'It is crucial to reduce the effects of human activities on the marine environment in the Arctic. Supporting this project is an important contribution to sustainable development of key natural resources in the Arctic. These resources include petroleum and could offer major opportunities for value creation,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The project will identify measures to reduce environmental risk in the northern sea areas, and the main target group is the petroleum industry. The aim is to develop knowledge, technical solutions and plans that address the specific environmental challenges in Arctic waters. This will also require innovation and international cooperation. The international petroleum industry will be involved in the project as well as various research groups and universities.

The project, which is entitled “A transatlantic innovation arena for sustainable development in the Arctic” will run between 2016 and 2020 by the research company Akvaplan-niva in Tromsø. The main partners are the University of Tromsø, the Institute of Marine Research, the International Research Institute of Stavanger and the Canadian governmental body Fisheries and Ocean Canada.

The Ministry is funding this project under the Arctic grant scheme Arctic 2030, which has a budget framework of more than NOK 150 million ($17 million) for this year.

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