Harald Brekke to receive knighthood


In September, senior geologist Harald Brekke will be awarded Knight 1st Class of the Order of Saint Olav. Until then, he will have to enjoy a photo of the prestigious order. (Photo: Rune Goa)

07/09/2023 Senior geologist Harald Brekke has been nominated as Knight 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav.

He is receiving this knighthood for his long-term efforts to establish the limits of the Norwegian and other continental shelves, as well as efforts to establish international regulations for seabed minerals.

"Yes, I was a little surprised. I received a phone call on a Friday in June from the County Governor of Agder (where Harald lives). She informed me that this proposal came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I'm taking it as a nice recognition of the work I've done," says Harald.

The Order of Saint Olav is conferred as a "reward for distinguished services rendered to Norway and mankind".

The appointment was announced by the Royal Palace today, Wednesday, and the Order will be conferred on 12 September. This will take place at the County Governor of Agder, and the mayor of Kristiansand will also be present.

"I was part of the UN's Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for 15 years, where I helped establish the limits of continental shelves around the world, in addition to plenty of work on the Norwegian shelf here at home," he says.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs started this effort, and Harald and a few colleagues acted as technical experts (geologists and geophysicists) in the work. This was primarily Morten Sand, but also Olvar Løvås and Oddny Svendsen.

In order to establish new continental shelf boundaries, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea states that a country may have shelf boundaries beyond 200 nautical miles - but only on certain conditions; either topographical and/or geological. And these must be mapped.

The Norwegian continental shelf covers 2,652,474 square kilometres. This now also includes acreage outside the 200 nautical mile limit, 419,014 square kilometres (248,231 km2 here in the north and 170,783 km2 around Bouvet Island). These are the fruits of this labour.

In comparison, mainland Norway covers 323,808 square kilometres.

In addition to contributing to the establishment of outer limits in several countries, Harald has been part of the Seabed Authority for 10 years. This agency is headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica. Here, he has worked on seabed mineral licences in international waters, an effort which is something of a parallel to the NPD's licence work. Sissel Eriksen has taken over this function.

The result of this work will influence the regulations that are being developed for the Norwegian shelf. "Our regulations can't be weaker than what is being developed at the international level. It's too soon to say what this will mean in practice," he says.

But he recognises that we can take inspiration from other places where licences have been awarded, in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.

The ceremony will be officiated by the King's representative in Agder, but the custom is for the King to invite several order recipients to a gathering at the Royal Palace. This invitation has yet to be sent.

Updated: 07/09/2023

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