State Secretary Tone Skogen's speech at the 10th anniversary of the Oil for Development Programme 21 October 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a sincere pleasure for me to be with you today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Oil for Development Programme, which to me is one of the vantage points in our cooperation with other countries under the development umbrella.
In the fifty years since the Norwegian petroleum era began, we have experienced the challenges involved in managing oil and gas resources – and, if I must say so prepared for the next step to keep on track and avoid pitfalls. The oil and gas resources are of major economic and industrial importance to Norway and have been essential for the development of our welfare state. Through the lessons we have learnt and by making adjustments along the way, we have developed what is considered to be an excellent example of establishing and administering sound policies, stable and predictable framework conditions, a highly qualified government administration, good resource and state income management and good governance for the petroleum sector. We are pleased to share and discuss our experiences with other host nations.
The broader picture is of interest in this context.
When world leaders gathered for this year’s UN General Assembly, which marked the 70th anniversary of the UN itself, they adopted the 2030 Agenda and the new, ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. These goals include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing economic inequality and urgently addressing climate change.
Never before have world leaders pledged joint action across such a broad and universal policy agenda. It means that we must all follow a path towards sustainable development and devote ourselves collectively to the pursuit of global development. We can all gain by cooperating to this end.
The Norwegian Government is committed to support the Agenda 2030 and determined to obtain the best possible results. The Oil for Development Programme is one of our best tools in these endeavours. The programme’s aim to share Norwegian experience with partner countries implies that they can use the full potential of their petroleum resources. For oil and gas nations, good resource management is part of making the sector a contributor to sustainable growth. Oil and gas activities represent an economic activity that will provide the social dimension of employment, growth and welfare. The activities must, however, be carried out taking high account of climate and environmental concerns. If managed properly and effectively, the oil and gas resources may prove to be an important building block for many developing countries.
Petroleum-rich states are most likely to prosper if there is a stable legal framework and a predictable trade and investment environment with international trade rules. The same factors also benefit the petroleum sector. This is why the Norwegian Government has provided oil and gas companies with a predictable legal framework that allows them to make investment decisions on a stable and long-term commercial basis. There are too many examples from around the world of how petroleum production can be impeded by unstable conditions, undue state interference, poor governance and conflict.
Oil for Development is about good governance at large and to pave the way for a stable oil and gas sector to avoid such pitfalls that I just mentioned. By supporting initiatives where there is a strong degree of national ownership, we believe we can share our experience in a way that is valuable for host countries – also those that are very different from Norway.
Norway’s transparent and democratic system, rule of law and strong institutions have enabled steady and predictable development in the oil and gas sector and enhanced technological development in the field.
The idea behind Oil for Development is not to transfer the Norwegian model to other countries, but to be target oriented taking point of departure in the situation, ambitions and culture in the host nation. Thereby it will be possible to develop and support solutions that will be suitable for partner countries in their pursuit of a well-regulated and successful oil and gas sector. We must be aware that there is no fast-track approach to good governance.
Norway has taken an integrated approach to management of the oil and gas sector, and this is one of the key principles underlying the Oil for Development Programme. Well-functioning institutions in this sector alone are not enough; they need to be supported by strong institutions and good governance in society at large.
We all know that the risk of opportunistic decision-making and corruption is generally high in resource-rich countries, and this unfortunate issue must be mentioned. Strengthening government accountability is therefore one of the key objectives of the programme. On this note, we are happy to share Norway’s experience of promoting transparency in all areas.
If governments are to be held accountable, we also need a well-informed civil society that demands openness, public debate and responsibility. This is why Oil for Development works with a range of non-state actors as well as national authorities, and focuses on how petroleum revenues are used. The importance of an informed public debate and governments that fully appreciate the consequences of their decisions cannot be overstated.
I would like to congratulate you all on your achievements over the last 10 years. I know that all of you, both Norwegians and representatives from our partner countries, are deeply committed to and highly qualified for your work. I am pleased that Oil for Development has become an internationally recognised initiative and that our experience and advice are much in demand.
The Government will continue to support the programme. Norway has benefited greatly from its oil and gas resources, and it is very encouraging to see that good results are achieved in the oil and gas activities in our partner countries. I am confident this will continue. I wish you all success in building and maintaining a prosperous oil and gas sector - for the common good for the future of your nation.