Norway's state church proposed on Feb. 17 a five-year moratorium on new offshore oil and gas licenses for environmental reasons, joining a debate about opening more waters for exploration to sustain oil production. The moratorium proposal triggered an angry response by Norway's main labor union, LO, which fears that such a move would spark mass layoffs at a time when Norway's economy already faces recession. The proposal comes seven months before a general election whose result may decide if Norway opens more Arctic waters for exploration - seen by the oil industry as a needed lifeline amidst declining output from aging North Sea fields. (Reuters)

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