Equinor's Autumn Conference 2019

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kjell-Børge Freiberg held this speech at Equinor's Aumtun Conference 2019 at the Norwegian Theatre in Oslo.

Checked against delivery.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends!

I wish you a warm welcome to this conference, to discuss our future challenges – and opportunities – in the energy sector.

A special welcome to Dr. Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency, who will present the latest World Energy Outlook.

Let me focus on some key points from a Norwegian perspective.

To sum up the Energy Outlook as short as possible: "More energy, lower emissions".

The world faces several huge challenges, as addressed in the UN sustainable development goals.

A growing world population, the need for increased standards of living, economic growth, cleaner air, energy for all, and not least, climate action.

The challenges are closely connected. They are global, demand global solutions, and must be worked out at the same time.

Economic growth and increased standard of living require energy.

The global energy system is huge and complex, and is growing every year.

The use of energy is today three times higher than in 1965. Increased use of energy has provided better living standards for several hundred million people.

Therefore, energy is, and will be, key to deliver on the sustainability goals.

At the same time, global emissions from energy use have never been higher than in 2018.

How does we square this circle?

There is no quick fix.

Climate actions must be global. The total efforts under the Paris Agreement is the sum of all parts delivered.

Every country must take actions to address these issues.

Norway is doing its part:

First, by being active on all relevant international arenas where climate solutions are discussed.

By working hard to support an international climate regime, including the Paris Agreement.

By co-operating with the most ambitious countries in the world, the EU member states.

A key element of our climate policies is that our industry, including the oil companies, is part of the EU emission trading system. Through the system, they will reduce emissions by 43 percent
from 2005 to 2030.

Second, Norway also delivers at home. We have an ambitious climate policy, in all sectors of society. The oil and gas sector, has had tax on its CO2-emissions for almost 30 years.

We will also continue to develop Norway as a renewable nation.With a carbon free power system, we are in a unique position, compared with most other countries.

I am pleased to see the increase on wind and solar power globally. However, it accounts for only four percent today.

They cannot replace oil and gas in the near future as oil and gas cover more than 50 percent of the world's energy use.

The International Energy Agency reminds us that the world will need oil and gas for a long time ahead.

Also within the sustainable development scenario where the sustainability goals are met - demand will be high.  

To keep up with the demand for oil and gas, new and large investments to produce these resources will be necessary for the years to come, also in Norway.

This is an important argument for our oil and gas policy

And let me tell you right away:

  • what we do has a purpose
  • it is part of the solution,
  • and an answer to the challenges we are facing.

One example is the Aasta Hansteen platform in the Norwegian Sea.

Not only is the field providing activity and employment in my part of the country.

It is also the first gas field north of the Arctic Circle delivering gas in pipelines directly to Europe.

In terms of volume the gas from Aasta Hansteen could heat one of four households in the UK– or one of four cups of tea.

At the same time, it contributes to lower emissions.

It helps reduce the use of coal, and supports intermittent renewables like wind and solar.

This summer Britain had its first coal free week since 1882. Made possible by the combination of renewable energy, and Norwegian gas.

Our gas is a key to the transition to a low emission society, not only in the UK, but also in other countries in Europe.

In the long run, gas can be decarbonized and reformed into hydrogen, with the CO2 captured and stored.

This photo is another illustration of our policy: the first oil sample from the Johan Sverdrup field. A truly happy day!

Sverdrup illustrates many aspects of our industry:

The field will produce for at least fifty years, meaning that we will have a petroleum industry for decades.

An industry that will continue to create jobs, welfare and contribute to our pension fund, which recently passed…

10 000 billion kroner!

But Sverdrup is also about low carbon production.

With renewable power from land, the CO2 emissions from Sverdrup is only 700 grams per barrel produced. The world average is 18 kilos!

Finally, let me share an example from when I visited Marine Aluminium outside Haugesund.

They are specialized in the production of bridges and helipads for the petroleum sector. Now, they also deliver solutions for the ocean wind industry.

This shows us that we:

  • have a supply industry, which adapts.
  • are now building a bridge between petroleum and renewables.
  • and, that technology developed in the oil and gas segment is used also in new areas.

Looking ahead, where is this industry going?

If you want to shape the future, you first need to understand the past.

This year we are celebrating the discovery of Ekofisk – fifty years since the birth of Norway as a petroleum nation.

Many pioneers deserve credit for this adventure.

Such as the people working in the industry.

And those representing technology, research and development, leading to innovations such as subsea technology or new ways of drilling.

Innovations that have made the activity on our continental shelf faster, cheaper and cleaner.

And the industry itself, companies like Equinor, deserves credit.

Today, an international energy brand, heavily involved in tomorrow's energy solutions.

And not least, visionary politicians.      

Like former Prime Minister Trygve Bratteli. At Ekofisk in 1971, he said the famous words: "This could be a turning point in Norwegian economic history".

One of the biggest understatements in Norwegian history.

Looking ahead, we still need:

  • Visionary politicians,
  • The fantastic innovations from the industry, research and technology,
  • And a skilled workforce.

I strongly believe we are part of the solution and the answer.

That we represent best practice.

That is why I am surprised when some say we should set an end date to our production of oil and gas.

I disagree.

  • Reducing Norwegian production will likely have no impact on the global emissions.
  • It will put tens of thousands of highly
    profitable jobs - and our welfare - at risk.
  • And it will weaken a knowledge base fundamental for developing our society towards a low carbon future.
  • Such as Carbon Capture and Storage or CCS.

A necessary technology to reach our climate goals.

  • Such as hydrogen as a low carbon solution.
  • Or using offshore technology for ocean wind
  • Or using aquaculture to provide food for a global population.
  • Or extracting minerals from the seabed for energy storage, batteries, smart phones and electrical cars.

The list is long.

And it convinces me, and hopefully you, that there is no contradiction between being ambitious on climate and having a long-term perspective on our petroleum activity.

We will build on our proud and profitable petroleum industry to continue and develop our high standards, and to provide the foundations for a sustainable future.

Again, more energy, lower emissions.

Thank you, so much, for your attention!