Opening Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Subsea Valley Conference Exhibition at Telenor Arena, Fornebu, 21 March 2018.
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Thank you for inviting me here today.
Since Norway first discovered oil and gas on our continental shelf more than 50 years ago, the petroleum sector has become our largest economic sector.
The presence of international companies was essential from the beginning. And to this day, such players are key contributors to the Norwegian petroleum sector.
These companies were instrumental to the development of a Norwegian service and supply industry capable of competing with anyone.
With challenging conditions in the North Sea as the foundation, Norwegian suppliers have in turn developed technology, skills and services that are sought-after in all major oil and gas provinces of the world.
The 200 member companies of the Subsea Valley cluster are prime examples of this.
Clusters such as Subsea Valley are important. Both in terms of transferring expertise to already existing industries, and in terms of creating brand new ones.
Clusters bring together small and large players. Clusters provide links between business, academia and government. And clusters facilitate the exchange of ideas between established industrial companies and start-ups.
This provides a fertile soil for the development of new technology and business models.
Creating jobs and business opportunities outside the oil and gas sector will be important in the years to come. If we succeed, the Norwegian economy will be stronger, more diverse and less vulnerable.
The Government supports such efforts, and research and development is one of our key priorities. R&D is also at the core of our petroleum policy.
However, the Government's share of total spending on R&D in this sector is only a fraction compared to the petroleum companies and the supply industry.
Even in 2016 – a long time low in terms of R&D spending – oil companies' total investments in R&D amounted to 3,2 billion kroner.
This is six times higher than the total Government spending on research and development in this field – and that is how it should be.
Moreover, a similar amount is invested in R&D by the supply industry annually.
It is essential that the industry maintains these efforts. Research and development is by definition a process of trial and error, and even if any given project does not produce concrete results, it will still contribute to the development of expertise within the industry.
The Government will continue to be a partner to the industry. We will continue to support efforts to make activities on the shelf even safer and more effective, and with as low emissions as possible.
Norway may be a large player in the world of energy, but on a global scale, our economy is small.
Therefore, we need to make use of every competitive advantage we have. Our relatively small and transparent business environment, combined with a highly skilled work force, may help foster a culture of cooperation.
This includes making the most of the opportunities offered by digitalisation, automation and robotics. This trend affects all sectors of our economy, including oil and gas.
Subsea Valley has been awarded the status as Norwegian Centre of Expertise for energy technology.
This is a testament to the capabilities of the Subsea Valley companies.
I wish you luck on fostering further collaboration across industries and developing innovative solutions in order to meet the challenges of the future.
I am sure Subsea Valley companies will have a key role to play in "Engineering the Energy Future".
It is hereby my pleasure to declare the Subsea Valley Conference Exhibition officially opened!