Green groups have slammed reported plans by the Norwegian government to make taxpayers rather than oil companies pay special United Nations fees for offshore production from remote Arctic regions such as the Barents Sea.

Letters sent to oil companies from the Petroleum & Energy Ministry, obtained by Reuters, reveal how the government intends to implement a dormant provision of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Under Article 82 of the treaty, rich nations are due to pay up to 7% a year of the value of any production of oil, gas or other minerals from their continental shelves more than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from land to a fund to help developing nations.