Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
Research project

Uncertainty Assessments related to opening new Areas for Petroleum activity (UncAP)

This project focused on the uncertainty connected to petroleum-related activities and whether or not these should be allowed in the valuable and vulnerable Lofoten in Northern Norway.

A small and colourful village by the sea, tall mountains and blue skies in the background
This idyllic image is how many see the region of Lofoten in the north of Norway, picturesque houses surrounded by majestic mountains. But is this idyllic scenery and the local culture threatened if energy companies are given the go-ahead to engage in oil and gas extraction?
Anne Bremer

Main content

The UncAP project was financed by the Research Council of Norway under the programme HAVKYST (The ocean and the coast) from June 2011 to June 2013.

UncAP was an interdisciplinary project involving researchers from UiB’s Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) and marine scientists from the Institute of Marine Research (IMR).

The project focused on uncertainties around petroleum activities in the area of Lofoten in Northern Norway. The researchers wanted to look at how different interest groups view Lofoten and how they use these uncertainties in certain ways to promote their own agenda.

To this aim, the project was articulated around two phases:

1)  Assessing and discussing key uncertainties surrounding both everyday petroleum operations and accidents: Scientists from the IMR and researchers from the SVT have together elicited and discussed key uncertainties around routine petroleum operations and accidental oil spills. Some uncertainties were labelled ‘epistemological’, meaning that they are, for the time being, not reducible and not quantifiable. They thus challenge our way to take decisions regarding the opening of Lofoten to petroleum activities. This phase is now about to be finished, and will result in two peer-reviewed articles (links to come).

2) Opening the discussion to a broad range of actors: Because of these key uncertainties in our knowledge, the project argues that political decisions should not be based on science alone, but should also include the perspectives, interests and knowledge of other actors, from fishermen to the tourism industry, the petroleum sector and citizens living in Lofoten. The second phase of UncAP aims to involve those actors, through ‘scenario workshops’ to be held in June in Lofoten.