A question of balance

Norway and the Norwegian Government are committed – both in the short and long-term – to be a tough and action-oriented leader relating to climate change policy. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy administers energy resources here in the country, and its focus on reducing carbon emissions has led to a wide range of projects. This reinforces a nationwide commitment to creating and maintaining the balance within energy exploration, production and use in Norway.

 Norway aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050, a commitment clearly stated in 2007 when the Government released a white paper outlining the world’s most ambitious greenhouse gas control targets. This is a goal that requires cooperation between all segments of government, industry and society as a whole - but the prognosis is good given the country’s solid record of research and development efforts in energy and the environment over the last decade.

Solid Support
The various environmental projects stand on solid financial ground, with the Norwegian government having committed nearly NOK 2 billion in funding earmarked towards Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) activities. These include major projects at Mongstad and Kårstø, Research and Development of CCS technologies, as well as an array of international projects. The government has proposed an allocation of nearly NOK 1 billion in funding support for activities at the Test Centre Mongstad. Valuable experience from activities at the Test Centre will be gained – experience that will greatly assist the country in meeting the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Riis-Johansen indicates that this is government funding that can truly benefit Norway as well as the global community in fighting pollution. According to Minister Riis-Johansen, “The Test Centre Mongstad is an important step on the way to develop technologies which may reduce CO2 emissions from the production and consumption of fossil fuels significantly. The goal is that the project will make a significant contribution to the development and deployment of CCS in Norway as well as internationally.”

Working Together
Norway is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter and third largest gas exporter, achieving corporately social responsible production levels while at the same time maintaining the focus on energy needs of the future. One clue to the ongoing success has been a high level of cooperation between government and other national organizations. Cooperating closely with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, an organization focusing upon resource management and administration on behalf of the Ministry. The role of the Directorate is to maintain up to date information concerning all petroleum activity in Norway, laying the basis for sound resource management, safety and preparedness.

This type of cooperation all ties in with the National Technology Strategy – OG21, the national programme for R&D in the oil and gas sector here in this country. With main priorities that include environment, increased recovery, deep water, cost efficient drilling and the gas value chain, OG21 truly represents both short and long term Norwegian energy-related goals.

This in turn ties in well with PETROMAKS, the national programme to fund research, development and demonstration of petroleum technologies. In addition, CLIMIT supports R&D activities on CCS technologies. CLIMIT received a governmental allocation of approximately NOK 150 million for the year 2009.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities at Mongstad have received substantial government backing.
© Øyvind Hagen / StatoilHydro

 

Responsible Management
The many years of facing difficult climatic and geophysical conditions on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) has prepared Norwegian companies to compete and succeed on the international level like never before, and Norway has much to offer. Still, there is much new activity to be found on the NCS as indicated by the fact that by the 2008 application deadline, 47 companies has applied for exploration and drilling rights on the NCS. In 2009, the Ministry will open for a new application round.

Minister Riis-Johansen is pleased by the results of the 2008 round of applications, “It is positive to see that many companies still find interesting opportunities in areas that have been available for exploration for several years. Several new companies among the applicants also reflect the diversity on the Norwegian shelf. The broad interest for APA 2008 shows that there is still a broad interest for mature areas on the Norwegian shelf.”

Looking to the North, the Barents Sea is beckoning – with as much as 25% of the world’s remaining oil and gas resources thought to be hidden here and under the Arctic Ocean. Knowing that the environment must always be a top priority, the Government has set the highest standards for developing these arctic petroleum resources. These standards include the requirement that there be zero discharge to the sea for all petroleum activities, and that vulnerable areas of the marine environment be kept off-limits to petroleum production. See the related article concerning the High North in this issue: Addressing the Arctic Challenge.

As much as 25% of the world’s remaining oil and gas resources are thought to be hidden under the Barents Sea
© Trym Ivar Bergsmo / StatoilHydro

 

An Eye to the Future
For Norway it is a priority to maintain a competitive petroleum industry based in the country independently of future production of oil and gas. This means that the industry will have to compete on a global scale to attract both financial and human capital for future growth, and not least, the industry must be able to access new markets outside the Norwegian Continental Shelf for their technologies and business solutions. This is why the Government finds it so important to support the internationalization efforts of the oil and gas industry.

Without a thriving oil and gas industry in Norway it will be difficult to make the transition from the petroleum era to an energy nation that will encompass viable solutions for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and new renewables. There are spin-offs and repercussions between the various energy sectors that make the oil and gas cluster a force to be reckoned within a long-term perspective.

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