Minister of Social Affairs Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir told
reporters she supports the idea of searching for oil in the northeast
portion of Icelandic waters, adding that global warming brings with it “opportunities”.
“With changes come new conditions for Iceland’s closest neighbors in the north,” Jóhannesdóttir told attendants at a conference of polar nations in Tromsø, Norway yesterday. “We must get used to taking advantage of the opportunities that these new conditions provide us. We pointed out just a few years ago that soon a path will open up between to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic Ocean. It could be economical to have a transition port in Iceland for cargo shipping between Europe and North America and Asia.”
Jóhannesdóttir also supports exploration for oil in the northeast of Iceland’s territorial waters. This issue has been a contentious one lately, even though the possibility has existed for years. The Minister for the Environment Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir received both praise and criticism for speaking out against oil exploration in the area.
Jóhannesdóttir, for her part, emphasised that the oil exploration would be conducted in the most environmentally friendly way possible. When asked if she felt drilling for oil would only contribute to global warming, she responded by saying oil isn’t always burned; that it has other industrial applications.