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NOK 249 million for new petroleum research projects

Major allocation to the petroleum industry

"Many supplier companies are struggling to hang on to the highly skilled personnel that are so critical to ensuring competitiveness during the kind of downturn we see now,” says Per Gerhard Grini, chair of the PETROMAKS 2 programme board. “We have taken extra steps to encourage the petroleum industry to apply for funding of exciting projects, and it was very gratifying to see that more companies than ever before applied for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector in response to our autumn 2015 call for proposals.”

Mr. Grini believes the quality of innovation projects has improved. He says the programme board gave priority to supporting the highest possible number of projects and stretched the programme budget to make this happen. “We hope these projects now being started up will result in innovation and new, competitive solutions for Norwegian companies.”

There were also a large number of very high-quality grant applications from research groups within all the programme’s thematic areas. The programme board therefore allocated funding to several large-scale Knowledge-building Projects to foster long-term, strategic research that will benefit the petroleum industry. Some Researcher Projects of extremely high scientific merit were also awarded funding.

“All in all we believe we have struck a good balance of projects that will trigger industrial growth in the short term and projects of a more long-term nature carried out by research groups,” concludes Mr Grini.

To view all the projects awarded funding, see the two attachments in the right-hand column.

Investing in green growth and the environment

In the call for Innovation Project proposals, the PETROMAKS 2 programme had set aside a common pot with the Large-scale programme for Energy Research (ENERGIX) for allocation to projects related to green growth across different branches of industry.

“We had hoped for more grant applications under this topic, but the one project awarded funding fit very well within the thematic area and intention of the call for proposals,” says Tarjei N. Malme, programme coordinator for the PETROMAKS 2 programme.

Both the PETROMAKS 2 and ENERGIX programmes view continued collaboration in a positive light and see untapped potential for cooperation across sectors. “The oil and gas industry has expertise and technology with tremendous transfer value to other sectors,” adds Mr Malme. “At the same time the sector needs to intensify its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as underscored by the Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations on 12 December 2015”.

What happens if oil that has been floating at sea for some time meets drift ice? What happens if oil that has been floating at sea for some time meets drift ice?

The call for proposals for projects related to green growth comprises only a small part of the environmental activities under the PETROMAKS 2 programme. The programme board has allocated funding to several projects addressing environmental aspects of various segments of petroleum industry activities. One of these will study the effects of oil when it makes contact with drift ice. Little research has been carried out on what happens if oil floating exposed on the ocean surface drifts into icy areas. Over time the composition and characteristics of oil floating at sea will change, and SINTEF will be taking a closer look at what this means for oil-ice interactions, particularly how this may affect which tools to use to clean up oil spills. Project results will be of great importance in establishing the best possible preparedness for oil spills in Arctic marine areas.

Solutions to tough challenges in the Arctic

In recent years, new areas have been opened up for petroleum production in the Barents Sea, and the Goliat field will soon be ready to begin production.

PETROMAKS 2 programme coordinator Tarjei N. Malme. (Photo: Kari Druglimo-Nygaard) (Photo: Kari Druglimo-Nygaard)

“This makes it imperative to develop more expertise and technology for the Arctic,” says Mr Malme.

One project awarded funding will focus on reducing uncertainties in predicting marine icing conditions. Marine icing is a major problem for operations on the Norwegian continental shelf, so the results from this project will be highly significant for avoiding accidents in the Arctic – not only for offshore petroleum activities but also for fisheries, shipping and many land-based industries. DNV GL will carry out the project in collaboration with Statoil, SINTEF ICT, the University of Oslo, Eni and Lundin.

Another project awarded funding will develop bio-inspired “icephobic” materials that can withstand heavy stress in extreme environments. The concept is to manufacture thin composite films with sponge-like structures that will contain functional nanoparticles to achieve the material’s icephobic characteristics. New materials for the Arctic with such characteristics would provide far safer operation of Arctic fields. The project may also prove valuable for other marine actors in the Arctic and for applications such as space travel. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and SINTEF will carry out the project in close cooperation with the Anti-icing Materials International Laboratory (Canada) and Michigan Technological University (USA).

Long-term knowledge and our resource base

A number of Knowledge-building Projects and Researcher Projects with a strong component of researcher training and recruitment have also been awarded funding.

Funding from the PETROMAKS 2 programme has been awarded to two knowledge-building projects where research groups and the industry collaborate to generate new geological knowledge. The Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) will lead a project studying natural leakages of hydrocarbons to the sea floor in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea. The project will use new geochemical methods to understand the formation of these leakages and if and how there is a connection to deeper hydrocarbon accumulations. Led by the University of Bergen, another project will study how geological rift systems are developing. The project will combine data from an active rift in Greece and rift systems in the northern North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Both projects will incorporate elements of researcher training and recruiting to the geosciences.

Please note that some of the proposals may have been awarded funding subject to reductions or with other conditions stipulated for support. 


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