Väderöarna are a group of islands and islets in the archipelago outside of Fjällbacka.

Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

6 July 2022

New decision-making procedures for permits to explore the continental shelf

An amendment to the Swedish Continental Shelf Ordinance will enter into force on 1 July 2022. The amendment means that, with a few exceptions, the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) will become the decision-making authority for applications relating to surveying of the continental shelf.

The Swedish Continental Shelf Act (1966:314) stipulates that a permit is required to be able to explore and extract resources from the continental shelf. The permit requirement covers areas such as surveying for the construction of offshore wind turbines, and also laying cables and pipelines on the seabed.

SGU is the supervisory authority for permits in accordance with the Continental Shelf Act. However, it does not address permits linked to the laying of cables and pipelines outside the territorial boundary. SGU also takes decisions on applications for permits for sand, stone and gravel extraction in water areas. In addition, the Government has often commissioned SGU to prepare applications for permits to explore the continental shelf.

Amendments to the Swedish Continental Shelf Ordinance (1966:315) mean that as of 1 July 2022, SGU will assume responsibility for the governmental review of applications relating to the exploration of the continental shelf. However, this will not apply for applications concerning another state, that are extensive in scale, or may have significant harmful effects, or if requested by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management or the Swedish Armed Forces. In these cases, SGU will hand the case over to the Government together with a statement of opinion.

A transitional provision in the amending ordinance means that SGU will also assume responsibility for all cases which have been initiated with the Government before 1 July 2022, but where no decisions have been taken.

Assuming responsibility for the review involves more extensive work than SGU has so far undertaken within the framework of the Government’s commission to prepare the applications.

Overall, the amendment entails more extensive duties and an increased workload for the authority.

“Due to the volume of the cases submitted, the extended assignments, and the current lack of funding for the increased workload, SGU is not currently able to provide any information on when individual decisions may be taken,” says Elin Jansson, Head of Business Management and Legal Affairs at SGU.

Last reviewed 2022-07-06