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The PETROMAKS programme: A major boost for petroleum research

State Secretary Per Rune Henriksen of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy did not hold back his praise at the concluding conference of the Research Council of Norway’s large-scale programme on Optimal Management of Norwegian Petroleum Resources (PETROMAKS), recently held in Oslo.

State Secretary Rune Henriksen

State Secretary Rune Henriksen

 

“The PETROMAKS programme has given Norwegian petroleum research a major boost in a variety of ways, such as encouraging research activity that would not otherwise have been carried out. It is essential for industry players to place research and development high on their own agendas. The Research Council has helped to make this happen,” the State Secretary said.

“The PETROMAKS programme has made Norway one of the world leaders in petroleum-oriented research and the funding model has attracted considerable attention internationally,” he added.

The best receive funding – the results benefit society

The Research Council’s administration of public funding is occasionally criticised by those who believe it would be more expeditious for ministries to hand funding over directly to research institutions.

Arvid Hallén sees many benefits to the large-scale programme initiative. Photo: Jan Christian Sørlie

Arvid Hallén sees many benefits to the large-scale programme initiative. (Photo: Jan Christian Sørlie)

Director General Arvid Hallén of the Research Council of Norway counters such criticism by pointing to successful activities such as the PETROMAKS programme. The programme has obtained premium results and has led to very close cooperation between universities, research institutes, university colleges and industry.

“The large-scale programme initiative made it possible for us to prioritise and target research in key areas so that the best researchers are competing for funding. Open competition makes the best even better. A strategically oriented programme provides the best means for ensuring that the very best Norwegian research groups can develop even further while also leading to results in areas vital to Norwegian society,” he says.

Agent of change and driving force

Ten years of the PETROMAKS programme and the long-term dedication to knowledge-building it has entailed has placed Norway in a strong global position. The development of research environments has also led to the establishment of new Centres of Excellence (SFF) and Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI) in the field of petroleum-related research.

petroleum

“In this way, the Research Council is a driver for change in the petroleum and energy sphere. The underlying basis is the extensive communication between research groups, industry and the authorities. The evaluation of energy and petroleum research carried out for the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy via the Research Council also emphasises how important it is that the Research Council is able to act as an agent of change,” says the director general.

Ten years of the PETROMAKS programme

The strategies outlined in the PETROMAKS programme are rooted in the national technology strategy on oil and gas in the 21 century (OG21).

Programme board chair, Ingve Theodorsen, discusses the results of the PETROMAKS programme with Fridtjof Unander and Arvid Hallén of the Research Council of Norway. Photo: Claude R. Olsen Programme board chair, Ingve Theodorsen, discusses the results of the PETROMAKS programme with Fridtjof Unander and Arvid Hallén of the Research Council of Norway. (Photo: Claude R. Olsen)

“During the ten years of PETROMAKS activity, the programme has covered large portions of the upstream sector and health, safety and environment (HSE) considerations have been integrated into the research activities. The main focus of the programme has been on petroleum research related to underground issues – that is, exploration, recovery, simulated recovery and drilling,” explains Ingve Theodorsen, chair of the programme board and vice president for research in Statoil.

But resting on their laurels is not an option for the research sector or the petroleum and energy industry. Statoil’s ambition of improving the recovery rate by 60 per cent will require major new advances in technology.

“My advice to the board of the new PETROMAKS 2 programme is to establish closer cooperation with both the OG21 Task Force and the DEMO2000 programme in order to increase the synergy effects,” says Mr Theodorsen.

The PETROMAKS 2 programme is a new large-scale programme to be launched in 2013. The programme board will be headed by Per Gerhard Grini, Chief Researcher at Statoil.

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