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Gigantic oil find expected

Oil companies believe that there are several huge oil fields in the Norwegian Sea between the islands Roest and Vesteralen, industry newspaper Upstream reports.

Oil companies believe that there are several huge oil fields in the Norwegian Sea between the islands Roest and Vesteralen, industry newspaper Upstream reports. Environmentalists dispute the estimated value of the oil and warn against ecological damage.

Statoil's regional chief of search operations in the area, Oerjan Birkeland, believes up to six major fields may be found.

According to a report by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), geologists have observed several fields and estimate the possible value of the find at NOK 700 (USD 102) billion, roughly equivalent to the current value of Norway's oil fund.

The government is supposed to rule before Christmas on whether oil companies will gain access to the area around the Lofoten islands.

The Norwegian Fishermen's Association leader, Reidar Nilsen, said that the group is in principle positive to oil drilling as long as there is a guarantee against emissions.

The WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) strongly opposes searching for oil in the region, as the Lofoten area is a breeding ground for the Arctic cod and because the region also features diverse wildlife including whales.

Secretary-general of WWF Norway Rasmus Hanson told NRK that the region is the most ecologically sensitive ever to be considered for development.

Hanson also criticized the industry estimate of NOK 700 billion as a "fantasy number" designed to pressure the government into granting access to oil companies.