Huge miscalculation led to Norway's opening of Arctic oil

A single typo meant that the permission to drill for oil in the Barents Sea appeared far more economically beneficial than it is actually assessed to be. The Arctic drillings may not be profitable at all.

Photo: Harald Pettersen - Statoil

Last year, Norway opened up for oil and gas extraction in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea. Ahead of this decision, Norwegian authorities had been intent on issuing licenses for exploration drillings in the region, both to position the country against Russia on the other side of the nautical border and because examinations showed that there was a fortune to be made in the Arctic waters.

But these expectations seem to have been based on incorrect presumptions. A simple typo in an Excel spreadsheet meant that the estimated income appeared double – NOK 130 billion (EUR 14 billion) – the actual estimate, reports Norwegian media Teknisk Ugebrev, after the Norwegian Climate Foundation's online magazine Energi og Klima was the first to describe the grave error in the preliminary work.

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