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Norway is planning a major expansion of oil exploration in the arctic, adding a second licensing round set for approval this fall. To further its ambition to build a new oil province in its arctic region, the Norwegian government will auction up to 136 new oil exploration blocks in a major licensing round, with 125 of those in the arctic Barents Sea. "The expansion was needed to protect jobs and generate wealth," said Tina Bru, who was appointed Norway's Minister of Petroleum and Energy in January of this year. "We need new discoveries to uphold employment and value creation," Bru said, adding, " … opportunities we now offer in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea will be attractive to the companies and contribute to increased value creation and activity in the north over time." Norway is western Europe's biggest oil producer with a sovereign wealth fund worth over $1 trillion. Although not a member of the European Union, Norway participates in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions--except for those emissions produced by fossil fuels extracted from its territory and then used by others.