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OSLO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - An Oslo court approved on Thursday Norway's plans for more oil exploration in the Arctic, dismissing a lawsuit by environmentalists who said it violated a constitutional right to a healthy environment.
The case, brought by Greenpeace and the Nature and Youth Group, had argued that a 2015 oil licensing round in the Arctic that gave awards to Statoil, Chevron and others was unconstitutional.
"The environmental organisations' argument that the plan violates the Constitution's Article 112 has not succeeded," Oslo district court ruled. "The state, represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, is exonerated."
The court ordered the environmental groups to pay the state's legal costs of 580,000 Norwegian crowns ($71,687). It was not immediately clear if they would appeal against the ruling.
Norway is Western Europe's largest producer and exporter of oil and gas and plans to keep pumping for decades despite its support for the 2015 Paris climate accord, which aims to end the fossil fuel era this century.
While Norway's output from the Arctic remains small, the region is believed to hold the greatest potential for new discoveries that could gradually replace production from rapidly maturing North Sea and Norwegian Sea fields.
The government's lawyers had argued that the case was a publicity stunt that would cost jobs if it was successful. (Reporting by Alister Doyle, editing by Terje Solsvik)