Bjork Joins Protest Against Geothermal Company Takeover in Iceland

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Singer Bjork Iceland’s most famous export, joined her fellow countrymen and women last week as part of a three-day karaoke marathon protest against Canadian firm Magma Energy’s growing stake in Iceland’s HS Orka power plant.

Magma Energy is a geothermal exploration power company founded in 2008. It says on its website that it is North America’s second largest primary geothermal power producer and has a portfolio in three key geothermal regions in the world: western USA, Chile and Iceland.

According to the website Savingiceland.org, Magma already owns 46% of the stocks in HS Orka and wants to increase its stake to 98.5%, which would leave only 1.5% of the company in Icelandic hands.

At stake is the maintenance of Iceland’s independence and control over its natural resources as the country is increasingly flooded with foreign investment since its financial meltdown in 2008. HS Orka provides nine per cent of the country’s electricity.

The protest supported by Bjork and named Declare Independence collected 46,000 signatures in a petition, exceeding the minimum requirement of 35,000 required for a referendum. The transaction has already received regulatory approved but a government-appointed committee has not yet presented its report.

The event was held during the Icelandic holiday of Threttandinn which local folklore says is when elves and magical creatures come out to party with humans. Bjork performed Joy Division’s classic song, Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

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  1. Ah, the weird but oddly cute Bjork.

    But seriously, I couldn’t help but agree with the sentiments of the Icelandic population. If the majority shares of even the basic utilities (like energy) will be bought out to foreign ownership, doesn’t that spell trouble? I mean, if anything i believe it should be the government’s concern to regulate the utilities, as well as the extent to which foreign businesses can be allowed to hold shares and stocks (especially if the stocks are considered prime or blue chip).

    But perhaps I’m speaking more from experience. in our country, the past trend (in an effort to keep the economy afloat) was to export labor resources. now, foreign-owned outsourcing companies are booming like crazy. while the labor resource does not need to be exported now, the labor out put is still being diverted outwards.

    in short, the resulting development is rather shallow, short-lived, and not directed inwards.

    Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to the local energy sector as well. projects such as the bulusan geothermal will be developed and owned by the local sectors, and provide substantial benefits for the people as well.

    Here’s to hoping the best for Iceland as well.

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