Safeguarding global energy security on the way to net zero

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland held this speech at the Energy Connected conference hosted by Energy Valley at Fornebu on 19th May 2022.

Terje Aasland's speech at the Energy Connected conference.
Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland spoke about the opportunities to achieve a green transition at the Energy Connected conference on 19th May 2022. Credit: Arvid Samland / OED

Checked against delivery. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege for me to address you here at the Energy: Connected Conference.

Let me thank Energy Valley for gathering us here these two days, to discuss common challenges, and not least opportunities to achieve a green transition.

I am pleased to give some perspectives from the Norwegian government’s point of view.

I would like to start by stressing the importance of energy security.

While our common efforts for more clean energy will continue at full speed, we also need to address the need for energy security.

The backdrop for most current discussions on energy now is the war in Ukraine.

Even though the invasion of Ukraine is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis, it has also seriously affected the energy situation in Europe. In many ways energy policy and security policy have become even more connected.

In a situation where Europe wants to become independent of natural gas from Russia, Norwegian contributions are in high demand.

From our perspective we will remain a stable and
predictable supplier of energy to the international markets, and we will continue to develop our resources within both petroleum and renewables. That, I can promise.

However, securing access to affordable energy is not the only challenge we are facing.

On top of this, we must meet the energy demand within the framework of our climate goals and environmental sustainability – as the UN climate panel’s latest report reminded us.

The urgency is greater now than before.

I strongly believe we can meet the challenges, and that they will provide new opportunities.

Cutting emissions and helping others to cut theirs, is also about creating new jobs, new activity, and opportunities in national and international markets.

As an important energy nation both in terms of petroleum and renewables, Norway has many advantages as the world strives to secure enough energy while reaching our common climate goals.

Achieving those goals is what our policies aim for. In fact, I would call our governing platform: A declaration of love to energy and industry!

However, policies alone are not enough. We also need you - business and industry.

I would like to commend initiatives such as Energy Valley, gathering energy related industry, technology and R&D – in order to collaborate and to share knowledge and insight for the energy transition.

I know there are many interesting projects going on in the cluster on hydrogen and offshore wind, and much more.

The priority for this government is to work together with all of you, to help us all succeed in the transition towards a renewable, circular and sustainable society.

I believe this reflects the very core of how to approach the energy transition: The close cooperation between industries, research and policies.

The Norwegian government has pointed out a direction – where we together will grasp the opportunities and solve the challenges this transition represents.

In our governing platform, and our white paper on energy policy, presented last month, our ambitions are clear:

To contribute to a secure, green transition and employment.

We will have an active approach – creating jobs, increasing exports and facilitating new and existing industries based on our common natural resources.

Natural resources, such as petroleum.

The Norwegian petroleum activity has been vital for building an industry of world class technology providers, along with providing welfare and employment.

In our government platform, we have made it very clear that we will develop, not dismantle, the petroleum industry. In this sense, development means predictability.

We will provide a predictable framework and do what we can to facilitate a continued high level of activity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

On the other hand, development also means change.

We have very ambitious targets for reducing our emissions. In collaboration with the industry, the authorities will work to reduce emissions from oil and gas production on the Norwegian shelf by 50 per cent by 2030 and to net zero in 2050.

That is bold, and a big challenge, but we will do what we can to succeed. There is no time to hesitate.

Second – we must use our advantages and competence coming from several decades of experience to develop new business areas such as:

  • Offshore Wind
  • Hydrogen
  • And CCS

Offshore wind is currently our largest renewable export.

Ship owners, shipyards and suppliers are increasingly turning their attention to this growing market.

With our offshore experience, floating offshore wind will be an area where Norwegian companies can play a very important role in future developments.

Hywind Tampen was the first of hopefully many projects to come.

And as you know, two large areas for offshore wind have been opened - "Sørlige Nordsjø II" and "Utsira Nord".

But we do not plan to stop there, and we will open up for more areas for offshore renewable energy production in the years to come.

Just recently, the Norwegian government launched its ambition to award areas by 2040 for production of 30 gigawatts ocean wind.  

And from 2025 we will award a substantial acreage to ensure scalability, technology development and industrialisation.

Another energy industry ready for take-off is hydrogen. And I can assure you, the Norwegian Government also wish to accelerate the industrial use of hydrogen technologies.

Hydrogen as an energy carrier will be important for the energy transition, if production can be done both at scale and with low or no emissions.

Hydrogen can potentially play a key role in the Norwegian
strategies in the European Green Deal, and in Europe’s clean energy transition.

To achieve this, we need technologies that cut production costs and reduce loss of energy. We also need to expand the market with new areas of application.

This is an area where more research is needed. To cover some of the investments in research and development, the government has already increased the budget for hydrogen research in 2022. We have also recently awarded funds for two new research centers for hydrogen in Trondheim and in Bergen.

A third area I would like to mention is carbon capture and storage. For some industries, CCS is one of few available technologies to reduce emissions.

CCS can contribute to a just transition, by maintaining employment in carbon intensive industries and create new jobs associated with CCS.

There are also some very interesting opportunities connected to blue hydrogen production.

The government is firmly committed to developing a robust value chain for CCS in Norway. The Longship project is under construction, and we can already see positive effects from this effort.

There is also renewed interest for CCS in Europe. Four out of seven projects rewarded with funding from EU’s Innovation Fund in November are CCS-projects.

Third –I would also like to stress one very important factor. If we are to succeed with our ambitious targets, we need more power.

There are many new and ongoing initiatives to establish new industries, battery-factories, and to electrify processes and services that currently use fossil fuels. They all have one thing in common:

They need access to power.

Let me be clear: There will be no real green transition without new green power production.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Norway is a significant energy nation both in terms of oil and gas as well as renewables. This is a perfect starting point to meet the challenges ahead facing the global energy system. And not least, to safeguard global energy security on the way to net zero.

A successful energy transition is at the heart of reaching the global climate challenge. The transition will also make a difference in Norway, whether it is hydrogen, CCS or offshore wind.

Going forward, we need to cooperate – and Energy Valley is a shining example. Together, we will find solutions.

My government will provide direction.

To lay the foundation for an energy policy that secures clean and affordable energy, continued stable oil and gas production on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and lower global greenhouse gas emissions. We want to help the growth of new and green industries,  such as offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

In this way we can reach a common goal: To ensure that Norway shall continue to be the industry’s first choice. Where access to clean and affordable energy will continue to be an advantage in the future – to ensure value creation, jobs and industrial growth, while solving the challenges the world is facing.

Thank you so much for your attention!