Greenland government 'reluctant' to offer new licenses for offshore drilling

Greenland's new minister for natural resources says the Arctic island's recently elected government doesn't plan to issue any new licenses for offshore oil exploration.

Jens-Erik Kirkegaard told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the 20 licenses issued to date were at a level that are "natural for an area like Greenland" and that the government would be "reluctant" to offer more.

The announcement was welcomed by environmentalists who oppose drilling in Arctic waters, fearing disastrous oil spills.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas is in the Arctic.

Only one company, Scotland-based Cairn Energy, has drilled off Greenland in recent years. However, it found no commercial quantities of oil and gas.