The court held that the approvals were not based on a sufficiently thorough analysis of the climate effects of the new projects. Further, it indicated that the MPE handling was not compliant with the requirements of Article 112 of the Norwegian Constitution. Article 112 deals with environmental protection, including the rights of future generations.
In an auxiliary injunction the court ordered the state not to make new decisions that presuppose that a valid PDO approval exists, which would bar the state from awarding a renewed production permit when the current permit for the producing Breidablikk field expires in December 2024. The injunction is valid until a final decision has been made in the main case, or until overturned by higher courts.
Demanding immediate halt of producation
The environmental organisations have demanded an immediate halt of production on Breidablikk, which started producing on 20 October 2023.
It is expected that the state will appeal the decision. We believe that it is highly likely that the appeal will be allowed to proceed to the merits stage, and that Bogarting Court of Appeals will hold a full hearing sometime in 2024. Alternatively, we expect the state to seek to appeal directly to the Norwegian Supreme Court, in which case a hearing may also be expected in 2024.
Regardless of the eventual fate of the case in the higher courts, the decision 18 January 2024 by Oslo District Court represents a landmark. New court cases regarding licensing rounds, PDO approvals and other government decisions, and their compatibility with Norwegian climate obligations, must after this be expected to arise more frequently the next years. Also, the decision will affect the decision-making processes in the Ministry of Energy in particular.